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Environ Health Perspect. 2000 Feb;108(2):135-40.

50-Hertz magnetic field and calcium transients in Jurkat cells: results of a research and public information dissemination (RAPID) program study.

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  • 1The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio 45226, USA.


An effect on intracellular calcium continues to be proposed as a biochemical pathway for the mediation of biologic effects of electrical-power-frequency magnetic fields (MF). However, reproducible results among laboratories are difficult to attain and the characteristics of magnetic field effects on intracellular free calcium ([Ca(2+)](i)) are not well understood. We attempted to repeat the studies of Lindström et al. [Intracellular Calcium Oscillations in a T-Cell Line by a Weak 50 Hz Magnetic Field. J Cell Physiol 156:395-398 (1993)] by investigating the effect of a 1.5-G 50-Hz MF on [Ca(2+)](i) in the Jurkat lymphocyte T-cell line. Changes in [Ca(2+)](i) were determined using microscopic imaging of fura-2 loaded Jurkat cells on poly-l-lysine-coated glass coverslips. The MF was generated by a single coil constructed with bifilar wire and located in the same plane as the cells. Cells were randomly exposed for 8 min to MF, sham field (SF), or no field (NF) conditions. The exposure condition remained coded until data analysis was complete. Each exposure period was preceded by an 8-min data collection to establish a baseline for [Ca(2+)](i). After each exposure condition, cells were exposed to anti-CD3 antibody that induced a rapid increase in [Ca(2+)](i) in responsive cells; this provided a positive control. [Ca(2+)](i) was analyzed for individual cells as spatially-averaged background-corrected 340/380 nm ratios, and a [Ca(2+)](i) transient was considered significant for positive deviations from baseline of 3 [multiple] an estimate of noise in the baseline. Typically, 25-50 cells/field were viewed and approximately 50% had no [Ca(2+)](i) transients in the baseline period and also responded to positive control. Only cells responding to positive control and lacking changes in [Ca(2+)](i) during the baseline period were considered qualified for assessment during the exposure period. The incidences of [Ca(2+)](i) transients during the exposure period for two experiments (40 [multiple] objective) were 16.5, 14.6, and 14.2% for MF, SF, and NF, respectively, and were not statistically significantly different. Previous studies by Lindström et al. [Intracellular Calcium Oscillations in a T-Cell Line after Exposure to Extremely-Low-Frequency Magnetic Fields with Variable Frequencies and Flux Densities. Bioelectromagnetics 16:41-47 (1995)] showed a high response rate (92%) for exposure to 1. 5-G 50-Hz MF when individual cells were preselected for investigation. We found no such effect when examining many cells simultaneously in a random and blind fashion. These results do not preclude an effect of MF on [Ca(2+)](i), but suggest that responsive cells, if they exist, were not identified using the approaches that we used in this study.

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