Effects of 60-GHz millimeter waves on neurite outgrowth in PC12 cells using high-content screening

Neurosci Lett. 2016 Apr 8;618:58-65. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2016.02.038. Epub 2016 Feb 26.


Technologies for wireless telecommunication systems using millimeter waves (MMW) will be widely deployed in the near future. Forthcoming applications in this band, especially around 60GHz, are mainly developed for high data-rate local and body-centric telecommunications. At those frequencies, electromagnetic radiations have a very shallow penetration into biological tissues, making skin keratinocytes, and free nerve endings of the upper dermis the main targets of MMW. Only a few studies assessed the impact of MMW on neuronal cells, and none of them investigated a possible effect on neuronal differentiation. We used a neuron-like cell line (PC12), which undergoes neuronal differentiation when treated with the neuronal growth factor (NGF). PC12 cells were exposed at 60.4GHz for 24h, at an incident power density averaged over the cell monolayer of 10mW/cm(2). Using a large scale cell-by-cell analysis based on high-content screening microscopy approach, we assessed potential effects of MMW on PC12 neurite outgrowth and cytoskeleton protein expression. No differences were found in protein expression of the neuronal marker β3-tubulin nor in internal expression control β-tubulin. On the other hand, our data showed a slight increase, although insignificant, in neurite outgrowth, induced by MMW exposure. However, experimental controls demonstrated that this increase was related to heating.

Keywords: Electromagnetic field; Neurite outgrowth; Neuron-like cell line; Neuronal differentiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Nerve Growth Factor / pharmacology
  • Neurites / drug effects
  • Neurites / physiology
  • Neurites / radiation effects*
  • PC12 Cells
  • Radio Waves*
  • Rats
  • Tubulin / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Tubulin
  • Nerve Growth Factor