Effect of millimeter waves on natural killer cell activation

Bioelectromagnetics. 2005 Jan;26(1):10-9. doi: 10.1002/bem.20046.


Millimeter wave therapy (MMWT) is being widely used for the treatment of many diseases in Russia and other East European countries. MMWT has been reported to reduce the toxic effects of chemotherapy on the immune system. The present study was undertaken to investigate whether millimeter waves (MMWs) can modulate the effect of cyclophosphamide (CPA), an anticancer drug, on natural killer (NK) cell activity. NK cells play an important role in the antitumor response. MMWs were produced with a Russian-made YAV-1 generator. The device produced modulated 42.2 +/- 0.2 GHz radiation through a 10 x 20 mm rectangular output horn. Mice, restrained in plastic tubes, were irradiated on the nasal area. Peak SAR at the skin surface and peak incident power density were measured as 622 +/- 100 W/kg and 31 +/- 5 mW/cm2, respectively. The maximum temperature elevation, measured at the end of 30 min, was 1 degrees C. The animals, restrained in plastic tubes, were irradiated on the nasal area. CPA injection (100 mg/kg) was given intraperitoneally on the second day of 3-days exposure to MMWs. All the irradiation procedures were performed in a blinded manner. NK cell activation and cytotoxicity were measured after 2, 5, and 7 days following CPA injection. Flow cytometry of NK cells showed that CPA treatment caused a marked enhancement in NK cell activation. The level of CD69 expression, which represents a functional triggering molecule on activated NK cells, was increased in the CPA group at all the time points tested as compared to untreated mice. However, the most enhancement in CD69 expression was observed on day 7. A significant increase in TNF-alpha level was also observed on day 7 following CPA administration. On the other hand, CPA caused a suppression of the cytolytic activity of NK cells. MMW irradiation of the CPA treated groups resulted in further enhancement of CD69 expression on NK cells, as well as in production of TNF-alpha. Furthermore, MMW irradiation restored CPA induced suppression of the cytolytic activity of NK cells. Our results show that MMW irradiation at 42.2 GHz can up-regulate NK cell functions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cyclophosphamide / pharmacology*
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Drug Tolerance / radiation effects
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / drug effects*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / radiation effects*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation / radiation effects*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Microwaves*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Cyclophosphamide