Effects of extremely low-frequency electromagnetic field on expression levels of some antioxidant genes in human MCF-7 cells

Document Type : Original article


Department of Biology, College of Sciences, Shiraz University, Shiraz 71467-13565, Iran


In the past three decades, study on the biological effects of extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMFs) has been of interest to scientists. Although the exact mechanism of its effect is not fully understood, free radical processes has been proposed as a possible mechanism. This study was designed to evaluate the effect of 50-Hz EMFs on the mRNA levels of seven antioxidant genes (CAT, SOD1, SOD2, GSTO1, GSTM3, MSGT1, and MSGT3) in human MCF-7 cells. The EMF exposure patterns were: 1) 5 min field-on/5 min filed-off, 2) 15 min field-on/15 min field-off, 3) 30 min field-on continuously. In all three exposure conditions we tried to have total exposure time of 30 minutes. Control cultures were located in the exposure apparatus when the power was off. The experiments were done at two field intensities; 0.25 mT and 0.50 mT. The RNA extraction was done at two times; immediately post exposure and two hours post exposure. The mRNA levels were determined using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. MTT assay for three exposure conditions in the two field intensities represented no cytotoxic effect on MCF-7 cells. Statistical comparison showed a significant difference between 0.25 mT and 0.50 mT intensities for "the 15 min field-on/15 min field-off condition" (Fisher's exact test, P=0.041), indicating that at 0.50 mT intensity field, the number of down-regulated and/or up-regulated genes increased compared with the other ones. However, there is no statistical significant difference between the field intensities for the two others EMF exposure conditions.


1. Wertheimer N, Leeper E. Electrical wiring configurations and childhood cancer. Am J Epidemiol 1979;109:273-284.
2. IARC Working Group on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Non-ionizing radiation, Part 1: static and extremely low-frequency (ELF) electric and magnetic fields. IARC Monogr Eval Carcinog Risks Hum 2002;80:1-395.
3. Borhani N, Rajaei F, Salehi Z, Javadi A. Analysis of DNA fragmentation in mouse embryos exposed to an extremely low-frequency electromagnetic field. Electromagn Biol Med 2011;30:246-252.
4. Ivancsits S, Diem E, Pilger A, Rudiger HW, Jahn O. Induction of DNA strand breaks by intermittent exposure to extremely-low-frequency electromagnetic fields in human diploid fibroblasts. Mutat Res 2002;519:1-13.
5. Dominici L, Villarini M, Fatigoni C, Monarca S, Moretti M. Genotoxic hazard evaluation in welders occupationally exposed to extremely low-frequency magnetic fields (ELF-MF). Int J Hyg Environ Health 2011;215:68-75.
6. Kirschenlohr H, Ellis P, Hesketh R, Metcalfe J. Gene expression profiles in white blood cells of volunteers exposed to a 50 Hz electromagnetic field. Radiation Res 2012;178:138-149.
7. Frisch P, Li GC, McLeod K, Laramee CB. Induction of heat shock gene expression in RAT1 primary fibroblast cells by ELF electric fields. Bioelectromagnetics 2013;34:405-413.
8. Falone S, Grossi MR, Cinque B, D'Angelo B, Tettamanti E, Cimini A, Di Ilio C, Amicarelli F. Fifty hertz extremely low-frequency electromagnetic field causes changes in redox and differentiative status in neuroblastoma cells. Int J Biochem Cell Biol 2007;39:2093-2106.
9. Chen G, Lu D, Chiang H, Leszczynski D, Xu Z. Using model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae to evaluate the effects of ELF-MF and RF-EMF exposure on global gene expression. Bioelectromagnetics 2012;33:550-560.
10. Jin YB, Choi SH, Lee JS, Kim JK, Lee JW, Hong SC, Myung SH, Lee YS. Absence of DNA damage after 60-Hz electromagnetic field exposure combined with ionizing radiation, hydrogen peroxide, or c-Myc overexpression. Radiat Environ Biophys 2014;53: 93-101.
11. Luukkonen J, Liimatainen A, Juutilainen J, Naarala J. Induction of genomic instability, oxidative processes, and mitochondrial activity by 50 Hz magnetic fields in human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells. Mutat Res 2014;760:33-41.
12. Tiwari R, Lakshmi NK, Bhargava SC, Ahuja YR. Epinephrine, DNA integrity and oxidative stress in workers exposed to extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMFs) at 132 kV substations. Electromagn Biol Med 2015;34:56-62.
13. Grissom CB. Magnetic field effects in biology: a survey of possible mechanisms with emphasis on radical-pair recombination. Chemical Reviews 1995;95:3-24.
14. Repacholi MH, Greenebaum B. Interaction of static and extremely low frequency electric and magnetic fields with living systems: health effects and research needs. Bioelectromagnetics 1999;20:133-160.
15. Jajte J, Grzegorczyk J, Marek Zmyl lony A, Rajkowska E. Effect of 7 mT static magnetic field and iron ions on rat lymphocytes: apoptosis, necrosis and free radical processes. Bioelectrochemistry 2002;57:107-111.
16. Burlaka A, Tsybulin O, Sidorik E, Lukin S, Polishuk V, Tsehmistrenko S, Yakymenko I. Overproduction of free radical species in embryonal cells exposed to low intensity radiofrequency radiation. Exp Oncol 2013;35:219-225.
17. Campisi A, Gulino M, Acquaviva R, Bellia P, Raciti G, Grasso R, Musumeci F, Vanella A, Triglia A. Reactive oxygen species levels and DNA fragmentation on astrocytes in primary culture after acute exposure to low intensity microwave electromagnetic field. Neurosci Lett 2010;473:52-55.
18. De Iuliis GN, Newey RJ, King BV, Aitken RJ. Mobile phone radiation induces reactive oxygen species production and DNA damage in human spermatozoa in vitro. PLoS One 2009;4:e6446.
19. Yokus B, Cakir DU, Akdag MZ, Sert C, Mete N. Oxidative DNA damage in rats exposed to extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields. Free Radic Res 2005;39:317-323.
20. Moustafa YM, Moustafa RM, Belacy A, Abou-El-Ela SH, Ali FM. Effects of acute exposure to the radio- frequency fields of cellular phones on plasma lipid peroxide and antioxidase activities in human erythrocytes. Journal of Pharma- ceutical and Biomedical Analysis 2001;26:605-608.
21. Sobczak A, Kula B, Dancii A. Effects of electromagnetic field on free-radical processes in steelworkers. Part II: Magnetic field influence on vitamin A, E and selenium concentrations in plasma. J Occup Health 2002;44:230-233.
22. Lisanti MP, Martinez-Outschoorn UE, Lin Z, Pavlides S, Whitaker-Menezes D, Pestell RG, Howell A, Sotgia F. Hydrogen peroxide fuels aging, inflammation, cancer metabolism and metastasis: the seed and soil also needs fertilizer. Cell Cycle 2011;10:2440-2449.
23. Bradley-Whitman MA, Timmons MD, Beckett TL, Murphy MP, Lynn BC, Lovell MA. Nucleic acid oxidation: an early feature of Alzheimer’s disease. J Neurochem 2014;28:294-304.
24. Saify K, Saadat I, Saadat M. Down-regulation of antioxidant genes in human SH-SY5Y cells after treatment with morphine. Life Sci 2016;144:26-29.
25. Saify K, Saadat M. Expression patterns of antioxidant genes in human SH-SY5Y cells after treatment with methadone. Psychiatry Res 2015;230:116-119.
26. Mittler R. Oxidative stress, antioxidants and stress tolerance. Trends Plant Sci 2002;7:405-410.
27. Strange RC, Spiteri MA, Ramachandran S, Fryer AA. Glutathione-S-transferase family of enzymes. Mutat Res 2001;482:21-26.
28. Ueda M, Hung YC, Teral Y, Kanda K, Takehara M, Yamashlta H, Yamaguchl H, Akise D, Yasuda M, Nishiyama K, Ueki M. Glutathione S-transferase GSTM1, GSTT1 and p53 codon 72 polymorphisms in human tumor cells. Hum Cell 2003;16:241-251.
29. Lin X, Nelson WG. Methyl-CpG-binding domain protein-2 mediates transcriptional repression associated with hypermethylated GSTP1 CpG islands in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. CancerRes 2003;63:498-504.
30. Esteller M, Corn PG, Urena JM, Gabrielson E, Baylin SB, Herman JG. Inactivation of glutathione S-transferase P1 gene by promoter hypermethylation in human neoplasia. Cancer Res 1998;5:4515-4518.
31.Kula B, Sboczak A, Kuska R. Effects of electromagnetic field on free radical processes in steelworkers. Part I. Magnetic field influence on the antioxidant activity in red blood cells and plasma. J Occup Health 2002;44:226-229.
32. Osera C, Amadio M, Falone S, Fassina L, Magenes G, Amicarelli F, Ricevuti G, Govoni S, Pascale A. Pre-exposure of neuroblastoma cell line to pulsed electromagnetic field prevents H2O2-induced ROS production by increasing MnSOD activity. Bioelectromagnetics 2015;36:219-232.
33. Patruno A, Tabrez S, Pesce M, Shakil S, Kamal MA, Reale M. Effects of extremely low frequency electromagnetic field (ELF-EMF) on catalase, cytochrome P450 and nitric oxide synthase in erythro-leukemic cells. Life Sci 2015;121:117-123.
34. Zwirska-Korczala K, Jochem J, Adamczyk-Sowa M, Sowa P, Polaniak R, Birkner E, Latocha M, Pilc K, Suchanek R. Effect of extremely low frequency of electromagnetic fields on cell proliferation, antioxidative enzyme activities and lipid peroxidation in 3T3-L1 preadipocytes - an in vitro study. J Physiol Pharmacol 2005;56 Suppl 6:101-108.
35. Di Loreto S, Falone S, Caracciolo V, Sebastiani P, D'Alessandro A, Mirabilio A, Zimmitti V, Amicarelli F. Fifty hertz extremely low-frequency magnetic field exposure elicits redox and trophic response in rat-cortical neurons. J Cell Physiol 2009;219:334-343.
36. Patruno A, Amerio P, Pesce M, Vianale G, Di Luzio S, Tulli A, Franceschelli S, Grilli A, Muraro R, Reale M. Extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields modulate expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase, endothelial nitric oxide synthase and cyclooxygenase-2 in the human keratinocyte cell line HaCat: potential therapeutic effects in wound healing. Br J Dermatol 2010;162:258-266.