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J R Soc Interface. 2016 Jan;13(114):20150995. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2015.0995.

Induction of micronuclei and superoxide production in neuroblastoma and glioma cell lines exposed to weak 50 Hz magnetic fields.

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Department of Environmental Science, University of Eastern Finland, PO Box 1627, 70211 Kuopio, Finland
Department of Environmental Science, University of Eastern Finland, PO Box 1627, 70211 Kuopio, Finland.


Extremely low-frequency (ELF) magnetic fields (MF) have been associated with adverse health effects in epidemiological studies. However, there is no known mechanism for biological effects of weak environmental MFs. Previous studies indicate MF effects on DNA integrity and reactive oxygen species, but such evidence is limited to MFs higher (greater than or equal to 100 µT) than those generally found in the environment. Effects of 10 and 30 µT fields were studied in SH-SY5Y and C6 cells exposed to 50-Hz MFs for 24 h. Based on earlier findings, menadione (MQ) was used as a cofactor. Responses to MF were observed in both cell lines, but the effects differed between the cell lines. Micronuclei were significantly increased in SH-SY5Y cells at 30 µT. This effect was largest at the highest MQ dose used. Increased cytosolic and mitochondrial superoxide levels were observed in C6 cells. The effects on superoxide levels were independent of MQ, enabling further mechanistic studies without co-exposure to MQ. The micronucleus and mitochondrial superoxide data were consistent with a conventional rising exposure-response relationship. For cytosolic superoxide, the effect size was unexpectedly large at 10 µT. The results indicate that the threshold for biological effects of ELF MFs is 10 µT or less.


exposure–response relationship; extremely low-frequency magnetic field; genotoxicity; reactive oxygen species

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