Due to the rapid development of mobile phone technology, we are continuously exposed to 1.7 GHz LTE radio frequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs), but their biological effects have not been clarified. Here, we investigated the non-thermal cellular effects of these RF-EMFs on human cells, including human adipose tissue-derived stem cells (ASCs), Huh7 and Hep3B liver cancer stem cells (CSCs), HeLa and SH-SY5Y cancer cells, and normal fibroblast IMR-90 cells. When continuously exposed to 1.7 GHz LTE RF-EMF for 72 h at 1 and 2 SAR, cell proliferation was consistently decreased in all the human cells. The anti-proliferative effect was higher at 2 SAR than 1 SAR and was less severe in ASCs. The exposure to RF-EMF for 72 h at 1 and 2 SAR did not induce DNA double strand breaks or apoptotic cell death, but did trigger a slight delay in the G1 to S cell cycle transition. Cell senescence was also clearly observed in ASC and Huh7 cells exposed to RF-EMF at 2 SAR for 72 h. Intracellular ROS increased in these cells and the treatment with an ROS scavenger recapitulated the anti-proliferative effect of RF-EMF. These observations strongly suggest that 1.7 GHz LTE RF-EMF decrease proliferation and increase senescence by increasing intracellular ROS in human cells.
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