Power frequency magnetic field promotes a more malignant phenotype in neuroblastoma cells via redox-related mechanisms

Sci Rep. 2017 Sep 13;7(1):11470. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-11869-8.


In accordance with the classification of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, extremely low frequency magnetic fields (ELF-MF) are suspected to promote malignant progression by providing survival advantage to cancer cells through the activation of critical cytoprotective pathways. Among these, the major antioxidative and detoxification defence systems might be targeted by ELF-MF by conferring cells significant resistance against clinically-relevant cytotoxic agents. We investigated whether the hyperproliferation that is induced in SH-SY5Y human neuroblastoma cells by a 50 Hz, 1 mT ELF magnetic field was supported by improved defence towards reactive oxygen species (ROS) and xenobiotics, as well as by reduced vulnerability against both H2O2 and anti-tumor ROS-generating drug doxorubicin. ELF-MF induced a proliferative and survival advantage by activating key redox-responsive antioxidative and detoxification cytoprotective pathways that are associated with a more aggressive behavior of neuroblastoma cells. This was coupled with the upregulation of the major sirtuins, as well as with increased signaling activity of the erythroid 2-related nuclear transcription factor 2 (NRF2). Interestingly, we also showed that the exposure to 50 Hz MF as low as 100 µT may still be able to alter behavior and responses of cancer cells to clinically-relevant drugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Doxorubicin / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / metabolism
  • Inactivation, Metabolic
  • Magnetic Fields*
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / metabolism
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Neuroblastoma / etiology
  • Neuroblastoma / metabolism*
  • Neuroblastoma / pathology*
  • Oxidation-Reduction*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Sirtuin 1 / metabolism
  • Sirtuin 3 / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • NFE2L2 protein, human
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Doxorubicin
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • SIRT1 protein, human
  • SIRT3 protein, human
  • Sirtuin 1
  • Sirtuin 3