Background: It is widely accepted that DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) and their misrepair in stem cells are critical events in the multistage origination of various leukemias and tumors, including gliomas.
Objectives: We studied whether microwaves from mobile telephones of the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) and the Universal Global Telecommunications System (UMTS) induce DSBs or affect DSB repair in stem cells.
Methods: We analyzed tumor suppressor TP53 binding protein 1 (53BP1) foci that are typically formed at the sites of DSB location (referred to as DNA repair foci) by laser confocal microscopy.
Results: Microwaves from mobile phones inhibited formation of 53BP1 foci in human primary fibroblasts and mesenchymal stem cells. These data parallel our previous findings for human lymphocytes. Importantly, the same GSM carrier frequency (915 MHz) and UMTS frequency band (1947.4 MHz) were effective for all cell types. Exposure at 905 MHz did not inhibit 53BP1 foci in differentiated cells, either fibroblasts or lymphocytes, whereas some effects were seen in stem cells at 905 MHz. Contrary to fibroblasts, stem cells did not adapt to chronic exposure during 2 weeks.
Conclusions: The strongest microwave effects were always observed in stem cells. This result may suggest both significant misbalance in DSB repair and severe stress response. Our findings that stem cells are most sensitive to microwave exposure and react to more frequencies than do differentiated cells may be important for cancer risk assessment and indicate that stem cells are the most relevant cellular model for validating safe mobile communication signals.
Keywords: 53BP1 foci; DNA double-strand breaks; microwaves; mobile phones; stem cells.