No DNA damage response and negligible genome-wide transcriptional changes in human embryonic stem cells exposed to terahertz radiation

Sci Rep. 2015 Jan 13;5:7749. doi: 10.1038/srep07749.


Terahertz (THz) radiation was proposed recently for use in various applications, including medical imaging and security scanners. However, there are concerns regarding the possible biological effects of non-ionising electromagnetic radiation in the THz range on cells. Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) are extremely sensitive to environmental stimuli, and we therefore utilised this cell model to investigate the non-thermal effects of THz irradiation. We studied DNA damage and transcriptome responses in hESCs exposed to narrow-band THz radiation (2.3 THz) under strict temperature control. The transcription of approximately 1% of genes was subtly increased following THz irradiation. Functional annotation enrichment analysis of differentially expressed genes revealed 15 functional classes, which were mostly related to mitochondria. Terahertz irradiation did not induce the formation of γH2AX foci or structural chromosomal aberrations in hESCs. We did not observe any effect on the mitotic index or morphology of the hESCs following THz exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cell Nucleus / radiation effects
  • Cell Shape / radiation effects
  • Chromosome Aberrations
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Cyclin B1 / metabolism
  • Cytogenetic Analysis
  • DNA Breaks, Double-Stranded / radiation effects
  • DNA Damage / genetics*
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / radiation effects*
  • G1 Phase / radiation effects
  • Genome, Human*
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Indoles / metabolism
  • Mitotic Index
  • Molecular Sequence Annotation
  • Phosphorylation / radiation effects
  • Terahertz Radiation*
  • Transcription, Genetic / radiation effects*


  • Cyclin B1
  • H2AX protein, human
  • Histones
  • Indoles
  • DAPI