Promotion of cell ageing by radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (LTE signal)? (Choi et al. 2020)

In this study, Choi et al. (2020) used a modulated RF-EMF, for which only few experimental data are available so far. The authors exposed cultured cells with a typical LTE signal (Long Term Evolution; 4G) on a 1.7 GHz carrier frequency, and investigated its effect on aspects of cell vitality and proliferation.

Different types of cells from various tissue origins were exposed for 3 days, with calculated SAR values of 1 and 2 W/kg. First, the authors found that the three-day exposure led to a reduction in cell proliferation of about 10-90% compared to the control populations without exposure, depending on
the dose. Overall, the anti-proliferative effect was more pronounced in cancer cells than, for example, in stem cells from adipose tissue or fibroblasts from the skin. Furthermore, the authors investigated the cause for the observed effects. As the effects could be attenuated by the addition of a ROS scavenger, a role of oxidative stress and the formation of ROS was postulated. According to the authors, the reduction of cell proliferation by LTE exposure was caused neither by damage to the DNA nor the induction of programmed cell death (apoptosis), but by an enhancement of the cell ageing process (senescence). Accompanied by a slowing of the cell cycle progression, an increased proportion of cells with biomarkers for senescence was found in the exposed cultures.

The possibility that exposure to an RF-EMF could have an effect on the cell ageing process has been mentioned or investigated rarely in scientific studies so far.

In this respect, the consistent effects found in different cell types in the methodologically and biologically elaborated study by Choi et al. (2020) are remarkable.

It should be noted, however, that a new and hardly validated exposure device was used, which allows for a good temperature control, but might suffer from low field homogeneity, possibly leading to an underestimation of the calculated SAR values. Nevertheless, these observations should promote further investigation of cell ageing in relation to RF-EMF exposure.

Choi J, Min K, Jeon S, Kim N, Pack JK, Song K (2020): Continuous Exposure to 1.7 GHz LTE Electromagnetic Fields Increases Intracellular Reactive Oxygen Species to Decrease Human Cell Proliferation and Induce Senescence. Sci Rep. 2020 Jun 8;10(1):9238.


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