Influence of radiofrequency radiation on chromosome aberrations in CHO cells and its interaction with DNA-damaging agents

J. J. Kerbacher, M. L. Meltz, D. N. Erwin

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55 Scopus citations


A limited number of contradictory reports have appeared in the literature about the ability of radiofrequency (rf) radiation to induce chromosome aberrations in different biological systems. The technical documentation associated with such reports is often absent or deficient. In addition, no information is available as to whether any additional genotoxic hazard would result from a simultaneous exposure of mammalian cells to rf radiation and a chemical which (by itself) induces chromosome aberrations. In the work described, we have therefore tested two hypotheses. The first is that rf radiation by itself, at power densities and exposure conditions which are higher than is consistent with accepted safety guidelines, can induce chromosome aberrations in mammalian cells. The second is that, during a simultaneous exposure to a chemical known to be genotoxic, rf radiation can affect molecules, biochemical processes, or cellular organelles, and thus result in an increase or decrease in chromosome aberrations. Mitomycin C (MMC) and Adriamycin (ADR) were selected because they act by different mechanisms, and because they might put normal cells at risk during combined-modality rf radiation (hyperthermia)-chemotherapy treatment of cancer. The studies were performed with suitable 37°C and equivalent convection heating-temperature controls in a manner designed to discriminate between any thermal and possible nonthermal action. Radiofrequency exposures were conducted for 2 h under conditions resulting in measurable heating (a maximum increase of 3.2°C), with pulsed-wave rf radition at a frequency of 2450 MHz and an average net forward power of 600 W, resulting in an SAR of 33.8 W/kg. Treatments with MMC or ADR were for a total of 2.5 h and encompassed the 2-h rf radiation exposure period. The CHO cells from each of the conditions were subsequently analyzed for chromosome aberrations. In cells exposed to rf radiation alone, and where a maximum temperature of approximately 40°C was achieved in the tissue culture medium, no alteration in the frequency from 37°C control levels was observed. Relative to the chemical treatment with MMC alone at 37°C, for two different concentrations, no alteration was observed in the extent of chromosome aberrations induced by either simultaneous rf radiation exposure or convection heating to equivalent temperatures. At the ADR concentration that was used, most of the indices of chromosome aberrations which were scored indicated a similar result. In one comparison, however, that for chromosome aberrations per cell after simultaneous rf radiation and ADR treatment, a small but statistically significant increase was observed for the induced chromosome aberration events per 100 cells compared to chemical exposure alone at 37°C. Since the same small but statistically significant increase was observed in the convection heating-temperature control, it would appear that the observed effect could be temperature-dependent, and not a phenomenon specific for rf radiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-319
Number of pages9
JournalRadiation Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiation
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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