Exploring the radiosensitizing potential of magnetotherapy: a pilot study in breast cancer cells

Int J Radiat Biol. 2019 Sep;95(9):1337-1345. doi: 10.1080/09553002.2019.1619951. Epub 2019 Jun 17.


Aim: To explore the influence of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) on the cell cycle progression of MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7 breast cancer cell lines and to evaluate the radiosensitizing effect of magnetotherapy during therapeutic co-exposure to EMFs and radiotherapy. Material and methods: Cells were exposed to EMFs (25, 50 and 100 Hz; 8 and 10 mT). In the co-treatment, cells were first exposed to EMFs (50 Hz/10 mT) for 30 min and then to ionizing radiation (IR) (2 Gy) 4 h later. Cell cycle progression and free radical production were evaluated by flow cytometry, while radiosensitivity was explored by colony formation assay. Results: Generalized G1-phase arrest was found in both cell lines several hours after EMF exposure. Interestingly, a marked G1-phase delay was observed at 4 h after exposure to 50 Hz/10 mT EMFs. No cell cycle perturbation was observed after repeated exposure to EMFs. IR-derived ROS production was enhanced in EMF-exposed MCF-7 cells at 24 h post-exposure. EMF-exposed cells were more radiosensitive in comparison to sham-exposed cells. Conclusions: These results highlight the potential benefits of concomitant treatment with magnetotherapy before radiotherapy sessions to enhance the effectiveness of breast cancer therapy. Further studies are warranted to identify the subset(s) of patients who would benefit from this multimodal treatment.

Keywords: Magnetotherapy; breast cancer; cell cycle; electromagnetic fields; oxidative stress; radiotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Cycle / radiation effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Humans
  • Infrared Rays / therapeutic use
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Magnetic Field Therapy
  • Oxidative Stress / radiation effects
  • Pilot Projects