Sinusoidal 50 Hz magnetic fields do not affect structural morphology and proliferation of human cells in vitro

  • Rosanna Supino
  • M. G. Bottone
  • C. Pellicciari
  • C. Caserini
  • G. Bottiroli
  • M. Belleri
  • A. Veicsteinas
Keywords: breast cancer cells, fibroblasts, cell cycle, cytometry, immunocytochemistry


The effects of electromagnetic fields on severa1 processes related to cell physiology and proliferation are currently being investigated. Although the results are still not conclusive and even conflicting, there seems to be a fairly good agreement on the early effects of electromagnetic fields on the generation of free radicals and on Ca++-intracellular concentration and transport. To evaluate the long-lasting consequences of these precocious events, we examined the effects of short- and long-term magnetic field exposure on structural organization (cytokeratin or actin detection), proliferation (bromodeoxyuridine incorporation and propidium iodide staining), colony forming ability and viability (trypan blue exclusion test) of highly proliferating MCF-7 cells (from human breast carcinoma) and on slowly proliferating normal human fibroblasts (from healthy donors). Cells were exposed to either 20 or 500 μT sinusoidally oscillating (50Hz) magnetic fields for different lengths of time (1 to 4 days). Short (1 day)- and long (4 days)-time exposure to the two intensities did not affect MCF-7 growth and viability, colony number and size, or cellular distribution along the cell cycle; neither were the cell morphology and the intracellular distribution and amount of cytokeratin modified. Similarly, no modifications in the actin distribution and proliferative potential were observed in normal human fibroblasts. These findings suggest that under our experimental conditions, continuous exposure to magnetic fields does not result in any appreciable effect in both normal and tumor cells in vitro.