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Arch Biochem Biophys. 2005 Mar 1;435(1):227-40.

Biological stress responses to radio frequency electromagnetic radiation: are mobile phones really so (heat) shocking?

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  • 1Division of Biochemical Toxicology, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Box 210, S-17177 Stockholm, Sweden.


Cells phenotypically adapt to alterations in their intra- and extracellular environment via organised alterations to gene and protein expression. Many chemical and physical stimuli are known to drive such responses, including the induction of oxidative stress and heat shock. Increasing use of mobile telephones in our society, has brought focus on the potential for radio frequency (microwave) electromagnetic radiation to elicit biological stress responses, in association with potentially detrimental effects of this to human health. Here we review evidence suggesting altered gene and protein expression in response to such emissions, with particular focus on heat shock proteins. Non-thermal induction of heat shock proteins has been claimed by a number of investigations in in vitro cellular systems, and appears pleiotropic for many other regulatory events. However, many of these studies are flawed by inconsistencies in exposure models, cell types used and the independent reproducibility of the findings. Further, the paucity of evidence from in vivo experimentation is largely contradictory. Therefore, the validity of these effects in human health risk assessment remain unsubstantiated. Where possible, suggestions for further experimental clarification have been provided.

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