Experimental model for ELF-EMF exposure: Concern for human health

Saudi J Biol Sci. 2015 Jan;22(1):75-84. doi: 10.1016/j.sjbs.2014.07.006. Epub 2014 Aug 6.


Low frequency (LF) electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are abundantly present in modern society and in the last 20 years the interest about the possible effect of extremely low frequency (ELF) EMFs on human health has increased progressively. Epidemiological studies, designed to verify whether EMF exposure may be a potential risk factor for health, have led to controversial results. The possible association between EMFs and an increased incidence of childhood leukemia, brain tumors or neurodegenerative diseases was not fully elucidated. On the other hand, EMFs are widely used, in neurology, psychiatry, rheumatology, orthopedics and dermatology, both in diagnosis and in therapy. In vitro studies may help to evaluate the mechanism by which LF-EMFs affect biological systems. In vitro model of wound healing used keratinocytes (HaCaT), neuroblastoma cell line (SH-SY5Y) as a model for analysis of differentiation, metabolism and functions related to neurodegenerative processes, and monocytic cell line (THP-1) was used as a model for inflammation and cytokines production, while leukemic cell line (K562) was used as a model for hematopoietic differentiation. MCP-1, a chemokine that regulates the migration and infiltration of memory T cells, natural killer (NK), monocytes and epithelial cells, has been demonstrated to be induced and involved in various diseases. Since, varying the parameters of EMFs different effects may be observed, we have studied MCP-1 expression in HaCaT, SH-SY5Y, THP-1 and K562 exposed to a sinusoidal EMF at 50 Hz frequency with a flux density of 1 mT (rms). Our preliminary results showed that EMF-exposure differently modifies the expression of MCP-1 in different cell types. Thus, the MCP-1 expression needs to be better determined, with additional studies, with different parameters and times of exposure to ELF-EMF.

Keywords: AD, Alzheimer’s disease; ELF, extremely low frequency; ELF-EMF; EMFs, electromagnetic fields; HD, Huntington disease; HaCaT; K562; LF, low frequency; MCP-1; MCP-1, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1; PEMF, pulsed EMF; PMA, phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate; SH-SY5Y; THP-1.