Effects of low intensity static magnetic field on FTIR spectra and ROS production in SH-SY5Y neuronal-like cells

Emanuele Calabrò*, Salvatore Condello, Monica Currò, Nadia Ferlazzo, Daniela Caccamo, Salvatore Magazù, Riccardo Ientile

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Biological effects of man-made electromagnetic fields (EMFs) have been studied so far by experimental approaches exposing animals and cell cultures to EMFs. However, the evidence for cell toxicity induced by static magnetic field (SMF) is still uncertain. We investigated the effects produced by the exposure of human SH-SY5Y neuronal-like cells to a uniform magnetic field at intensities of 2.2mT, which is less than the recommended public exposure limits set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). A decrease of membrane mitochondrial potential up to 30% was measured after 24h of exposure to SMF in SH-SY5Y cells, and this effect was associated with reactive oxygen species production increase. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) analysis showed that exposure to a static magnetic intensity around 2.2mT changed the secondary structure of cellular proteins and lipid components. The vibration bands relative to the methylene group increased significantly after 4h of exposure, whereas further exposure up to 24h produced evident shifts of amide I and II modes and a relative increase in β-sheet contents with respect to α-helix components. Our study demonstrated that a moderate SMF causes alteration in cell homeostasis, as indicated by FTIR spectroscopy observations of changes in protein structures that are part of cell response to magnetic field exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)618-629
Number of pages12
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR)
  • Mitochondrial transmembrane potential
  • SH-SY5Y neuronal-like cells
  • Static magnetic field

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Physiology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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