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In vitro assessment of the neurotoxic potential of developmental, chronic and acute exposure to extremely low-frequency (50 Hz) electromagnetic fields



Principle investigator: Martje de Groot, M.Sc
Project leader: R.H.S. Westerink, Ph.D.
Project description:
The aim of this project is to obtain qualitative and quantitative data on the effects of extremely low-frequency electromagnetic field (ELF-EMF) exposure on processes essential for proper neuronal development and function.
Neurospheres In this project, several in vitro models will be used to investigate the possible neurotoxic potential of ELF-EMF exposure. Using both naïve and differentiated PC12 cells, as well as developing and mature neurospheres we try to mimic different (and presumably more or less susceptible) stages of brain development. The effects of acute, developmental and/or chronic exposure to 50Hz ELF-EMF exposure will be examined for intensities ranging from 0.01 uT (well below background exposure) to 1000 uT (10.000 times higher than typical human exposure). Using single cell microscopy and biochemical techniques, effects of ELF-EMF exposure on neuronal viability, morphology and function, with focus on calcium homeostasis, will be determined. The collected data will be used to determine if a causal relation between ELF-EMF exposure and effects on neuronal function or development exists and to determine so-called dose-effect curves and no-observed-effect-levels.
Exposure to ELF-EMFs (50 Hz), such as those generated by power lines and domestic electric appliances in homes, has increased considerably in recent years. Early epidemiological studies suggesting a small but significant association of ELF-EMF exposure with the development of childhood leukemia, raised scientific and public concern regarding the potential effects of ELF-EMFs on human health. These concerns regard in particular effects on human neuronal development and function. However, despite ongoing research, it is unclear whether ELF-EMF exposure is associated with adverse human health effects other than childhood leukemia. Additionally, the basic interaction mechanisms between these relatively weak fields and living matter are presently unclear, even though a large number of reports have been published regarding biological effects caused by 50/60 Hz EMFs during the last few years. To identify the underlying associated mechanisms and enable risk identification and assessment for ELF-EMF exposure, it is important to establish dose-response relationships and no-observed-effect-levels of ELF-EMF exposure with respect to cellular processes, including calcium homeostasis and intracellular levels of anti-oxidants.
Recent publications:
- de Groot, M.W.G.D.M., van Kleef, R.G.D.M., de Groot, A., Westerink, R.H.S. (2016). In vitro developmental neurotoxicity following chronic exposure to 50 Hz extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF) in primary rat cortical cultures. Toxicological Sciences 149, 433-440.
- de Groot, M.W.G.D.M., Kock, M.D., Westerink, R.H.S. (2014). Assessment of the neurotoxic potential of exposure to 50Hz extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF) in naive and chemically stressed PC12 cells. Neurotoxicology 44, 358-364.
- de Groot, M.W.G.D.M., Westerink, R.H.S. (2014). Chemically-induced oxidative stress increases the vulnerability of PC12 cells to rotenone-induced toxicity. Neurotoxicology 43, 102-109.
- de Groot, M.W.G.D.M., Dingemans, M.M.L., Rus, K.H., de Groot, A., Westerink, R.H.S. (2014). Characterization of calcium responses and electrical activity in differentiating mouse neural progenitor cells in vitro. Toxicological Sciences 137, 428-435.
- de Groot, M.W.G.D.M., Westerink, R.H.S., Dingemans, M.M.L. (2013). Don´t judge a neuron only by its cover: neuronal function in in vitro developmental neurotoxicity testing. Toxicological Sciences 132, 1-7.