Exposure to electromagnetic fields in the radiofrequency range is ubiquitous, mainly due to the worldwide use of mobile communication devices. With improving technologies and affordability, the number of cell phone subscriptions continues to increase. Therefore, the potential effect on biological systems at low-intensity radiation levels is of great interest. While a number of studies have been performed to investigate this issue, there has been no consensus reached based on the results. The goal of this study was to elucidate the extent to which cells of the hematopoietic system, particularly human hematopoietic stem cells (HSC), were affected by mobile phone radiation. We irradiated HSC and HL-60 cells at frequencies used in the major technologies, GSM (900 MHz), UMTS (1,950 MHz) and LTE (2,535 MHz) for a short period (4 h) and a long period (20 h/66 h), and with five different intensities ranging from 0 to 4 W/kg specific absorption rate (SAR). Studied end points included apoptosis, oxidative stress, cell cycle, DNA damage and DNA repair. In all but one of these end points, we detected no clear effect of mobile phone radiation; the only alteration was found when quantifying DNA damage. Exposure of HSC to the GSM modulation for 4 h caused a small but statistically significant decrease in DNA damage compared to sham exposure. To our knowledge, this is the first published study in which putative effects (e.g., genotoxicity or influence on apoptosis rate) of radiofrequency radiation were investigated in HSC. Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields did not affect cells of the hematopoietic system, in particular HSC, under the given experimental conditions.
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Vol. 186 • No. 5