Effects of exposure to gradient magnetic fields emitted by nuclear magnetic resonance devices on clonogenic potential and proliferation of human hematopoietic stem cells

Bioelectromagnetics. 2016 May;37(4):201-11. doi: 10.1002/bem.21967. Epub 2016 Mar 15.


This study investigates effects of gradient magnetic fields (GMFs) emitted by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) devices on hematopoietic stem cells. Field measurements were performed to assess exposure to GMFs of staff working at 1.5 T and 3 T MRI units. Then an exposure system reproducing measured signals was realized to expose in vitro CD34+ cells to GMFs (1.5 T-protocol and 3 T-protocol). CD34+ cells were obtained by Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting from six blood donors and three MRI-exposed workers. Blood donor CD34+ cells were exposed in vitro for 72 h to 1.5 T or 3 T-protocol and to sham procedure. Cells were then cultured and evaluated in colony forming unit (CFU)-assay up to 4 weeks after exposure. Results showed that in vitro GMF exposure did not affect cell proliferation but instead induced expansion of erythroid and monocytes progenitors soon after exposure and for the subsequent 3 weeks. No decrease of other clonogenic cell output (i.e., CFU-granulocyte/erythroid/macrophage/megakaryocyte and CFU-granulocyte/macrophage) was noticed, nor exposed CD34+ cells underwent the premature exhaustion of their clonogenic potential compared to sham-exposed controls. On the other hand, pilot experiments showed that CD34+ cells exposed in vivo to GMFs (i.e., samples from MRI workers) behaved in culture similarly to sham-exposed CD34+ cells, suggesting that other cells and/or microenvironment factors might prevent GMF effects on hematopoietic stem cells in vivo. Accordingly, GMFs did not affect the clonogenic potential of umbilical cord blood CD34+ cells exposed in vitro together with the whole mononuclear cell fraction.

Keywords: CD34+ cells; clonogenic potential; complex magnetic field waveforms; occupational exposure assessment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens, CD34 / metabolism
  • Colony-Forming Units Assay*
  • Erythroid Cells / cytology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / instrumentation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monocytes / cytology


  • Antigens, CD34