Exposure to 900 MHz radiofrequency radiation induces caspase 3 activation in proliferating human lymphocytes

Radiat Res. 2008 Sep;170(3):327-34. doi: 10.1667/RR1098.1.


In this study, the induction of apoptosis after exposure to 900 MHz radiofrequency radiation (GSM signal) was investigated by assessing caspase 3 activation in exponentially growing Jurkat cells and in quiescent and proliferating human peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs). The exposure was carried out at an average specific absorption rate of 1.35 W/kg in a dual wire patch cell exposure system where the temperature of cell cultures was accurately controlled. After 1 h exposure to the radiofrequency field, a slight but statistically significant increase in caspase 3 activity, measured 6 h after exposure, was observed in Jurkat cells (32.4%) and in proliferating human PBLs (22%). In contrast, no effect was detected in quiescent human PBLs. In the same experimental conditions, apoptosis was also evaluated in Jurkat cells by Western blot analysis and in both cell types by flow cytometry. To evaluate late effects due to caspase 3 activity, flow cytometry was also employed to assess apoptosis and viability 24 h after radiofrequency-radiation exposure in both cell types. Neither the former nor the latter was affected. Since in recent years it has been reported that caspases are also involved in processes other than apoptosis, additional cell cycle studies were carried out on proliferating T cells exposed to radiofrequency radiation; however, we found no differences between sham-exposed and exposed cultures. Further studies are warranted to investigate the biological significance of our findings of a dose-response increase in caspase 3 activity after exposure to radiofrequency radiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / radiation effects
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Phone*
  • Cell Proliferation / radiation effects*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Enzyme Activation / radiation effects
  • Humans
  • Jurkat Cells
  • Lymphocytes / cytology
  • Lymphocytes / enzymology*
  • Lymphocytes / radiation effects*
  • Microwaves*
  • Radiation Dosage


  • Caspase 3