Melatonin and a spin-trap compound block radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation-induced DNA strand breaks in rat brain cells

Bioelectromagnetics. 1997;18(6):446-54. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1521-186x(1997)18:6<446::aid-bem7>;2-2.


Effects of in vivo microwave exposure on DNA strand breaks, a form of DNA damage, were investigated in rat brain cells. In previous research, we have found that acute (2 hours) exposure to pulsed (2 microseconds pulses, 500 pps) 2450-MHz radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (RFR) (power density 2 mW/cm2, average whole body specific absorption rate 1.2 W/kg) caused an increase in DNA single- and double-strand breaks in brain cells of the rat when assayed 4 hours post exposure using a microgel electrophoresis assay. In the present study, we found that treatment of rats immediately before and after RFR exposure with either melatonin (1 mg/kg/injection, SC) or the spin-trap compound N-tert-butyl-alpha-phenylnitrone (PBN) (100 mg/kg/injection, i.p.) blocks this effects of RFR. Since both melatonin and PBN are efficient free radical scavengers it is hypothesized that free radicals are involved in RFR-induced DNA damage in the brain cells of rats. Since cumulated DNA strand breaks in brain cells can lead to neurodegenerative diseases and cancer and an excess of free radicals in cells has been suggested to be the cause of various human diseases, data from this study could have important implications for the health effects of RFR exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / radiation effects*
  • Cyclic N-Oxides
  • DNA / drug effects
  • DNA / radiation effects
  • DNA Damage*
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melatonin / pharmacology*
  • Microwaves*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / radiation effects*
  • Nitrogen Oxides / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Spin Labels


  • Cyclic N-Oxides
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Nitrogen Oxides
  • Spin Labels
  • phenyl-N-tert-butylnitrone
  • DNA
  • Melatonin