Exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) has been associated with the increased risk of childhood leukemia, which arises from mutations induced within hematopoietic stem cells often through preleukemic fusion genes (PFG). In this study we investigated whether exposure to microwaves (MW) emitted by mobile phones could induce various biochemical markers of cellular damage including reactive oxygen species (ROS), DNA single and double strand breaks, PFG, and apoptosis in umbilical cord blood (UCB) cells including CD34+ hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells. UCB cells were exposed to MW pulsed signals from GSM900/UMTS test-mobile phone and ROS, apoptosis, DNA damage, and PFG were analyzed using flow cytometry, automated fluorescent microscopy, imaging flow cytometry, comet assay, and RT-qPCR. In general, no persisting difference in DNA damage, PFG and apoptosis between exposed and sham-exposed samples was detected. However, we found increased ROS level after 1 h of UMTS exposure that was not evident 3 h post-exposure. We also found that the level of ROS rise with the higher degree of cellular differentiation. Our data show that UCB cells exposed to pulsed MW developed transient increase in ROS that did not result in sustained DNA damage and apoptosis.
Apoptosis | Double-strand DNA breaks | Risk factors