Reactive oxygen species formation and apoptosis in human peripheral blood mononuclear cell induced by 900 MHz mobile phone radiation

Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2012;2012:740280. doi: 10.1155/2012/740280. Epub 2012 Jun 14.


We demonstrate that reactive oxygen species (ROS) plays an important role in the process of apoptosis in human peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) which is induced by the radiation of 900 MHz radiofrequency electromagnetic field (RFEMF) at a specific absorption rate (SAR) of ~0.4 W/kg when the exposure lasts longer than two hours. The apoptosis is induced through the mitochondrial pathway and mediated by activating ROS and caspase-3, and decreasing the mitochondrial potential. The activation of ROS is triggered by the conformation disturbance of lipids, protein, and DNA induced by the exposure of GSM RFEMF. Although human PBMC was found to have a self-protection mechanism of releasing carotenoid in response to oxidative stress to lessen the further increase of ROS, the imbalance between the antioxidant defenses and ROS formation still results in an increase of cell death with the exposure time and can cause about 37% human PBMC death in eight hours.

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / radiation effects*
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism
  • Cell Phone
  • DNA Damage / radiation effects
  • Electromagnetic Fields
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism*
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / radiation effects
  • Membrane Potential, Mitochondrial / radiation effects
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Radio Waves*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Caspase 3