Manti, L., Braselmann, H., Calabrese, M. L., Massa, R., Pugliese, M., Scampoli, P., Sicignano, G. and Grossi, G. Effects of Modulated Microwave Radiation at Cellular Telephone Frequency (1.95 GHz) on X-Ray-Induced Chromosome Aberrations in Human Lymphocytes In Vitro. Radiat. Res. 169, 575–583 (2008).
The case for a DNA-damaging action produced by radiofrequency (RF) signals remains controversial despite extensive research. With the advent of the Universal Mobile Telecommunication System (UMTS) the number of RF-radiation-exposed individuals is likely to escalate. Since the epigenetic effects of RF radiation are poorly understood and since the potential modifications of repair efficiency after exposure to known cytotoxic agents such as ionizing radiation have been investigated infrequently thus far, we studied the influence of UMTS exposure on the yield of chromosome aberrations induced by X rays. Human peripheral blood lymphocytes were exposed in vitro to a UMTS signal (frequency carrier of 1.95 GHz) for 24 h at 0.5 and 2.0 W/kg specific absorption rate (SAR) using a previously characterized waveguide system. The frequency of chromosome aberrations was measured on metaphase spreads from cells given 4 Gy of X rays immediately before RF radiation or sham exposures by fluorescence in situ hybridization. Unirradiated controls were RF-radiation- or sham-exposed. No significant variations due to the UMTS exposure were found in the fraction of aberrant cells. However, the frequency of exchanges per cell was affected by the SAR, showing a small but statistically significant increase of 0.11 exchange per cell compared to 0 W/kg SAR. We conclude that, although the 1.95 GHz signal (UMTS modulated) does not exacerbate the yield of aberrant cells caused by ionizing radiation, the overall burden of X-ray-induced chromosomal damage per cell in first-mitosis lymphocytes may be enhanced at 2.0 W/kg SAR. Hence the SAR may either influence the repair of X-ray-induced DNA breaks or alter the cell death pathways of the damage response.