Mutagenic and morphologic impacts of 1.8GHz radiofrequency radiation on human peripheral blood lymphocytes (hPBLs) and possible protective role of pre-treatment with Ginkgo biloba (EGb 761)

Sci Total Environ. 2011 Dec 1;410-411:59-64. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2011.09.036. Epub 2011 Oct 19.


The mutagenic and morphologic effects of 1.8GHz Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) modulated RF (radiofrequency) radiation alone and in combination with Ginkgo biloba (EGb 761) pre-treatment in human peripheral blood lymphocytes (hPBLs) were investigated in this study using Sister Chromatid Exchange (SCE) and electron microscopy. Cell viability was assessed with 3-(4, 5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2, 5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) reduction assay. The lymphocyte cultures were exposed to GSM modulated RF radiation at 1.8GHz for 6, 8, 24 and 48h with and without EGb 761. We observed morphological changes in pulse-modulated RF radiated lymphocytes. Longer exposure periods led to destruction of organelle and nucleus structures. Chromatin change and the loss of mitochondrial crista occurred in cells exposed to RF for 8h and 24h and were more pronounced in cells exposed for 48h. Cytoplasmic lysis and destruction of membrane integrity of cells and nuclei were also seen in 48h RF exposed cells. There was a significant increase (p<0.05) in SCE frequency in RF exposed lymphocytes compared to sham controls. EGb 761 pre-treatment significantly decreased SCE from RF radiation. RF radiation also inhibited cell viability in a time dependent manner. The inhibitory effects of RF radiation on the growth of lymphoctes were marked in longer exposure periods. EGb 761 pre-treatment significantly increased cell viability in RF+EGb 761 treated groups at 8 and 24h when compared to RF exposed groups alone. The results of our study showed that RF radiation affects cell morphology, increases SCE and inhibits cell proliferation. However, EGb 761 has a protective role against RF induced mutagenity. We concluded that RF radiation induces chromosomal damage in hPBLs but this damage may be reduced by EGb 761 pre-treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Survival
  • Ginkgo biloba / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes / drug effects*
  • Lymphocytes / radiation effects*
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Microwaves*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Radiation Tolerance
  • Radiation-Protective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Sister Chromatid Exchange*
  • Tetrazolium Salts / chemistry
  • Thiazoles / chemistry
  • Time Factors


  • Plant Extracts
  • Radiation-Protective Agents
  • Tetrazolium Salts
  • Thiazoles
  • thiazolyl blue