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J Cell Biochem. 2006 Sep 1;99(1):168-77.

Alteration in cellular functions in mouse macrophages after exposure to 50 Hz magnetic fields.

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Department of Cell Biology and Biosystems Technology, Unit of Environmental Physiology, University of Rostock, Albert-Einstein-Strasse 3. D-18057 Rostock, Germany.


The aim of the present study is to investigate whether extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF) affect certain cellular functions and immunologic parameters of mouse macrophages. In this study, the influence of 50 Hz magnetic fields (MF) at 1.0 mT was investigated on the phagocytic activity and on the interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) production in differentiated macrophages. MF-exposure led to an increased phagocytic activity after 45 min, shown as a 1.6-fold increased uptake of latex beads in MF-exposed cells compared to controls. We also demonstrate an increased IL-1beta release in macrophages after 24 h exposure (1.0 mT MF). Time-dependent IL-1beta formation was significantly increased already after 4 h and reached a maximum of 12.3-fold increase after 24 h compared to controls. Another aspect of this study was to examine the genotoxic capacity of 1.0 mT MF by analyzing the micronucleus (MN) formation in long-term (12, 24, and 48 h) exposed macrophages. Our data show no significant differences in MN formation or irregular mitotic activities in exposed cells. Furthermore, the effects of different flux densities (ranging from 0.05 up to 1.0 mT for 45 min) of 50 Hz MF was tested on free radical formation as an endpoint of cell activation in mouse macrophage precursor cells. All tested flux densities significantly stimulated the formation of free radicals. Here, we demonstrate the capacity of ELF-EMF to stimulate physiological cell functions in mouse macrophages shown by the significantly elevated phagocytic activity, free radical release, and IL-1beta production suggesting the cell activation capacity of ELF-EMF in the absence of any genotoxic effects.

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