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Exposure to high-frequency electromagnetic field triggers rapid uptake of large nanosphere clusters by pheochromocytoma cells

Authors Perera PGT, Nguyen THP, Dekiwadia C, Wandiyanto JV, Sbarski I, Bazaka O, Bazaka K, Crawford RJ, Croft RJ, Ivanova EP

Received 13 August 2018

Accepted for publication 3 October 2018

Published 10 December 2018 Volume 2018:13 Pages 8429—8442


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Thomas Webster

Palalle G Tharushi Perera,1 The Hong Phong Nguyen,2 Chaitali Dekiwadia,3 Jason V Wandiyanto,1 Igor Sbarski,1 Olga Bazaka,4 Kateryna Bazaka,5 Russell J Crawford,4 Rodney J Croft,6 Elena P Ivanova4

1Faculty of Science, Engineering and Technology, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, VIC, Australia; 2Faculty of Applied Sciences, Ton Duc Thang University, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; 3RMIT Microscopy and Microanalysis Facility, College of Science, Engineering and Health, RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia; 4School of Science, RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia; 5School of Chemistry, Physics, Mechanical Engineering, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD, Australia; 6School of Psychology, Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW, Australia

Background: Effects of man-made electromagnetic fields (EMF) on living organisms potentially include transient and permanent changes in cell behaviour, physiology and morphology. At present, these EMF-induced effects are poorly defined, yet their understanding may provide important insights into consequences of uncontrolled (e.g., environmental) as well as intentional (e.g., therapeutic or diagnostic) exposure of biota to EMFs. In this work, for the first time, we study mechanisms by which a high frequency (18 GHz) EMF radiation affects the physiology of membrane transport in pheochromocytoma PC 12, a convenient model system for neurotoxicological and membrane transport studies.
Methods and results: Suspensions of the PC 12 cells were subjected to three consecutive cycles of 30s EMF treatment with a specific absorption rate (SAR) of 1.17 kW kg-1, with cells cooled between exposures to reduce bulk dielectric heating. The EMF exposure resulted in a transient increase in membrane permeability for 9 min in up to 90 % of the treated cells, as demonstrated by rapid internalisation of silica nanospheres (diameter d ≈ 23.5 nm) and their clusters (d ≈ 63 nm). In contrast, the PC 12 cells that received an equivalent bulk heat treatment behaved similar to the untreated controls, showing lack to minimal nanosphere uptake of approximately 1–2 %. Morphology and growth of the EMF treated cells were not altered, indicating that the PC 12 cells were able to remain viable after the EMF exposure. The metabolic activity of EMF treated PC 12 cells was similar to that of the heat treated and control samples, with no difference in the total protein concentration and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release between these groups.
Conclusion: These results provide new insights into the mechanisms of EMF-induced biological activity in mammalian cells, suggesting a possible use of EMFs to facilitate efficient transport of biomolecules, dyes and tracers, and genetic material across cell membrane in drug delivery and gene therapy, where permanent permeabilisation or cell death is undesirable.

electromagnetic fields, EMFs, 18 GHz, PC 12 neuronal cells, membrane permeability, microwave

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