The modern telecommunications industry is ubiquitous throughout the world, with a significant percentage of the population using cellular phones on a daily basis. The possible physiological consequences of wireless emissions in the GHz range are therefore of major interest, but remain poorly understood. Here, we show that exposure to a 1.8 GHz carrier frequency in the amplitude range of household telecommunications induces the formation of ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) in human HEK293 cultured cells. The ROS concentrations detected by fluorescent imaging techniques increased significantly after 15 minutes of RF field exposure, and were localized to both nuclear and cytosolic cellular compartments. qPCR analysis showed altered gene expression of both anti-oxidative (SOD, GPX, GPX, and CAT) and oxidative (Nox-2) enzymes. In addition, multiple genes previously identified as responsive to static magnetic fields were found to also be regulated by RF, suggesting common features in response mechanisms. By contrast, many RF effects showed evidence of hormesis, whereby biological responsivity does not occur linearly as a function of signal amplitude. Instead, biphasic dose response curves occur with 'blind' spots at certain signal amplitudes where no measureable response occurs. We conclude that modulation of intracellular ROS can be a direct consequence of RF exposure dependent on signal frequency and amplitude. Since changes in intracellular ROS may have both harmful and beneficial effects, these could provide the basis for many reported physiological effects of RF exposure.
Keywords: Electromagnetic fields; hormesis; radiofrequency; reactive oxygen species; ros signaling.
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.