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Int J Radiat Biol. 2017 Feb;93(2):240-248. doi: 10.1080/09553002.2017.1235298. Epub 2016 Oct 5.

Modification of p21 level and cell cycle distribution by 50 Hz magnetic fields in human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells.

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a University of Eastern Finland , Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences , Yliopistonranta , Kuopio , Finland.
b University of Eastern Finland , Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences , Joensuu , Finland.
c University of Eastern Finland, Institute of Biomedicine , Kuopio , Finland.



In our previous studies, exposure to extremely low frequency (ELF) magnetic fields (MF) altered responses to DNA damage caused by menadione. The aim of this study was to evaluate possible ELF MF induced changes in proteins involved in DNA damage responses and in cell cycle distribution.


Based on our previous studies, the exposure protocol included pre-exposure of human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells to a 50 Hz, 100 μT MF for 24 h prior to a 3-h menadione treatment. As DNA damage responses are relatively fast processes, a 1-h menadione treatment was also included in the experiments. The menadione concentrations used were 1, 10, 15, 20, and 25 μM. Immunoblotting was used to assess the levels of DNA damage response-related proteins (γ-H2AX, Chk1, phospho-Chk1, p21, p27, and p53), while the level of DNA damage was assessed by the alkaline Comet assay. Cell cycle distribution was assayed by SYTOX Green staining followed by flow cytometry analysis.


The main findings in MF-exposed cells were decreased p21 protein level after the 1-h menadione treatment, as well as increased proportion of cells in the G1 phase and decreased proportion of S phase cells after the 3-h menadione treatment. These effects were detectable also in the absence of menadione.


The results indicate that MF exposure can alter the G1 checkpoint response and that the p21 protein may be involved in early responses to MF exposure.


Cell cycle; DNA damage response; extremely low frequency magnetic field; genotoxicity; immunoblotting

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