Lim, H. B., Cook, G. G., Barker, A. T. and Coulton, L. A. Effect of 900 MHz Electromagnetic Fields on Nonthermal Induction of Heat-Shock Proteins in Human Leukocytes. Radiat. Res. 163, 45–52 (2005).
Despite many studies, the evidence as to whether radiofrequency fields are detrimental to health remains controversial, and the debate continues. Cells respond to some abnormal physiological conditions by producing cytoprotective heat-shock (or stress) proteins. The aim of this study was to determine whether exposure to mobile phone-type radiation causes a nonthermal stress response in human leukocytes. Human peripheral blood was sham-exposed or exposed to 900 MHz fields (continuous-wave or GSM-modulated signal) at three average specific absorption rates (0.4, 2.0 and 3.6 W/kg) for different durations (20 min, 1 h and 4 h) in a calibrated TEM cell placed in an incubator to give well-controlled atmospheric conditions at 37°C and 95% air/5% CO2. Positive (heat-stressed at 42°C) and negative (kept at 37°C) control groups were incubated simultaneously in the same incubator. Heat caused an increase in the number of cells expressing stress proteins (HSP70, HSP27), measured using flow cytometry, and this increase was dependent on time. However, no statistically significant difference was detected in the number of cells expressing stress proteins after RF-field exposure. These results suggest that mobile phone-type radiation is not a stressor of normal human lymphocytes and monocytes, in contrast to mild heating.