Effects of extremely low-frequency pulsed electromagnetic fields (ELF-PEMFs) on glioblastoma cells (U87)

Electromagn Biol Med. 2017;36(3):238-247. doi: 10.1080/15368378.2016.1251452. Epub 2016 Nov 22.


The impact of extremely low-frequency pulsed electromagnetic fields (ELF-PEMFs) at various frequencies and amplitudes was investigated on cell cycle, apoptosis and viability of the Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) cell line (U87), in vitro. The GBM is a malignant brain tumor with high mortality in humans and poorly responsive to the most common type of cancer treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. U87 cells with five experimental groups (I-V) were exposed to various ELF-PEMFs for 2, 4 and 24 h, as follows: (I) no exposure, control; (II) 50 Hz 100 ± 15 G; (III) 100 Hz 100 ± 15 G; (IV) 10 Hz 50 ± 10 G; (V) 50 Hz 50 ± 10 G. The morphology properties, cell viability and gene expression of proteins involved in cell cycle regulation (Cyclin-D1 and P53) and apoptosis (Caspase-3) were investigated. After 24 h, the cell viability and Cyclin-D1 expression increased in Group II (30%, 45%), whereas they decreased in Groups III (29%, 31%) and IV (21%, 34%); P53 and Caspase-3 elevated only in Group III; and no significant difference was observed in Group V, respectively, compared with the control (p < 0.05). The data suggest that the proliferation and apoptosis of human GBM are influenced by exposure to ELF-PEMFs in different time-dependent frequencies and amplitudes. The fact that some of the ELF-PEMFs frequencies and amplitudes favor U87 cells proliferation indicates precaution for the use of medical devices related to the MFs on cancer patients. On the other hand, some other ELF-PEMFs frequencies and intensities arresting U87 cells growth could open the way to develop novel therapeutic approaches.

Keywords: Caspase-3; Cyclin-D1; Extremely low frequency–pulsed electromagnetic fields (ELF-PEMFs); P53; human glioblastoma cells U87.

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival
  • Cyclin D1 / metabolism
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Glioblastoma*
  • Humans


  • CCND1 protein, human
  • Cyclin D1
  • CASP3 protein, human
  • Caspase 3