Exposure to 1800 MHz radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation induces oxidative DNA base damage in a mouse spermatocyte-derived cell line

Toxicol Lett. 2013 Mar 27;218(1):2-9. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2013.01.003. Epub 2013 Jan 18.


Whether exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) emitted from mobile phones can induce DNA damage in male germ cells remains unclear. In this study, we conducted a 24h intermittent exposure (5 min on and 10 min off) of a mouse spermatocyte-derived GC-2 cell line to 1800 MHz Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) signals in GSM-Talk mode at specific absorption rates (SAR) of 1 W/kg, 2 W/kg or 4 W/kg. Subsequently, through the use of formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase (FPG) in a modified comet assay, we determined that the extent of DNA migration was significantly increased at a SAR of 4 W/kg. Flow cytometry analysis demonstrated that levels of the DNA adduct 8-oxoguanine (8-oxoG) were also increased at a SAR of 4 W/kg. These increases were concomitant with similar increases in the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS); these phenomena were mitigated by co-treatment with the antioxidant α-tocopherol. However, no detectable DNA strand breakage was observed by the alkaline comet assay. Taking together, these findings may imply the novel possibility that RF-EMR with insufficient energy for the direct induction of DNA strand breaks may produce genotoxicity through oxidative DNA base damage in male germ cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Survival / radiation effects
  • Comet Assay
  • DNA / radiation effects*
  • DNA Breaks, Double-Stranded / radiation effects*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Guanine / analogs & derivatives
  • Guanine / metabolism
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Microwaves / adverse effects*
  • Oxidants / pharmacology
  • Oxidative Stress / radiation effects*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Spermatocytes / metabolism
  • Spermatocytes / pathology
  • Spermatocytes / radiation effects*
  • alpha-Tocopherol / pharmacology


  • Antioxidants
  • Biomarkers
  • Oxidants
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • 8-hydroxyguanine
  • Guanine
  • DNA
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • alpha-Tocopherol