Adaptive response in mammalian cells exposed to non-ionizing radiofrequency fields: A review and gaps in knowledge

Vijayalaxmi, Yi Cao, Maria Rosaria Scarfi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Adaptive response is a phenomenon in which cells which were pre-exposed to extremely low and non-toxic doses of a genotoxic agent became resistant to the damage induced by subsequent exposure to a higher and toxic dose of the same, similar (in action) or another genotoxic agent. Such response has been well documented in scientific literature in cells exposed in vitro and in vivo to low doses of physical (especially, ionizing radiation) and chemical mutagens. The existence of similar phenomenon in mammalian cells exposed in vitro and in vivo to non-ionizing radiofrequency fields has been reported in several research publications. In in vitro studies, human blood lymphocytes exposed to radiofrequency fields and then treated with a genotoxic mutagen or subjected to ionizing radiation showed significantly decreased genetic damage. Similar studies in tumor cells showed significantly increased viability, decreased apoptosis, increased mitochondrial membrane potential, decreased intracellular free Ca2+ and, increased Ca2+-Mg2+-ATPase activity. In in vivo studies, exposure of rodents to radiofrequency fields and then to lethal/sub-lethal doses of γ-radiation showed survival advantage, significantly decreased damage in hematopoietic tissues, decreased genetic damage in blood leukocytes and bone marrow cells, increased numbers of colony forming units in bone marrow, increased levels of colony stimulating factor and interleukin-3 in the serum and increased expression of genes related to cell cycle. These observations suggested the ability of radiofrequency fields to induce adaptive response and also indicated some potential mechanisms for the induction of such response. Several gaps in knowledge that need to be investigated were discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-45
Number of pages10
JournalMutation Research - Reviews in Mutation Research
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Adaptive response
  • Clinical significance
  • Genetic damage
  • Radiofrequency fields
  • Survival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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