Extremely low-frequency electromagnetic field exposure enhances inflammatory response and inhibits effect of antioxidant in RAW 264.7 cells

Bioelectromagnetics. 2017 Jul;38(5):374-385. doi: 10.1002/bem.22049. Epub 2017 Mar 29.


In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number and variety of electronic devices that emit electromagnetic waves. Because people live and work in close proximity to these pieces of electrical equipment, there is growing concern surrounding the destruction of homeostasis by electromagnetic field exposure. In the present study, the effects of 60 Hz 0.8 mT extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF) on a macrophage cell line (RAW 264.7) were examined. Under defined ELF-EMF exposure conditions, the production of nitric oxide and pro-inflammatory cytokines, TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6, were increased in RAW 264.7 cells and the expression of those genes was also upregulated. However, cell proliferation was not altered. Translocation of NF-κB (nuclear factor kappa B), molecules that act downstream of the pro-inflammatory cytokines, were increased to the nucleus under ELF-EMF exposure conditions. In addition, we found that ELF-EMF exposure elevated activation of nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) 2, as well as positively affected the influx of calcium. Furthermore, with both the presence of a potent antioxidant (Resveratrol) and downregulation of the antioxidant-related gene Prx-1 (Peroxiredoxin-1), ELF-EMF was associated with higher inflammatory responses of macrophages. These results suggest that an ELF-EMF amplifies inflammatory responses through enhanced macrophage activation and can decrease the effectiveness of antioxidants. Bioelectromagnetics. 38:374-385, 2017. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: ELF-EMF; inflammatory cytokine; macrophage; peroxiredoxin-1; resveratrol.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects
  • Down-Regulation / radiation effects
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Homeostasis / drug effects
  • Homeostasis / radiation effects
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Mice
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • NFATC Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • RAW 264.7 Cells
  • Resveratrol
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / radiation effects
  • Stilbenes / pharmacology


  • Antioxidants
  • Cytokines
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • NF-kappa B
  • NFATC Transcription Factors
  • Prrx1 protein, mouse
  • Stilbenes
  • Resveratrol