Medical/biological study (experimental study)

Melatonin and a spin-trap compound block radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation-induced DNA strand breaks in rat brain cells.

Published in: Bioelectromagnetics 1997; 18 (6): 446-454

Aim of study (acc. to author)

To study the effects of microwave exposure on DNA strand breaks in rat brain cells and to investigate whether free radicals play a role.
Background/further details: Rats were treated with the free scavengers melatonin and N-tert-butyl-alpha-phenylnitrone (PBN) to see whether they can block radiofrequency-induced DNA single-strand breaks and double-strand breaks (animals were treated before and after exposure).



Exposure Parameters
Exposure 1: 2.45 GHz
Modulation type: pulsed
Exposure duration: continuous for 2 h
  • power density: 2 mW/cm² spatial average
  • SAR: 1.2 W/kg average over mass (whole body)
General information
rats were treated with melatonin or spin-trap compound N-tert-butyl-alpha-phenylnitrone (PBN) brfore or after exposure to EMF; experiments were done in four groups: i) EMF + drug ii) EMF only iii) sham exposure + drug iv) sham exposure
Exposure 1
Main characteristics
Frequency 2.45 GHz
  • circular
Exposure duration continuous for 2 h
Modulation type pulsed
Pulse width 2 µs
Packets per second 500
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Sham exposure A sham exposure was conducted.
Measurand Value Type Method Mass Remarks
power density 2 mW/cm² spatial average - - -
SAR 1.2 W/kg average over mass calculated whole body -
Reference articles
Exposed system:

Methods Endpoint/measurement parameters/methodology

Investigated material:
Investigated organ system:
Time of investigation:
  • after exposure

Main outcome of study (acc. to author)

Treatment of rats immediately before and after radiofrequency irradiation with either melatonin or the spin-trap compound N-tert-butyl-alpha-phenylnitrone (PBN) blocks the effects of radiofrequency irradiation (increase in DNA single-strand breaks and double-strand breaks). Since both melatonin and PBN are efficient free radical scavengers it is hypothesized that free radicals are involved in radiofrequency-induced DNA damage.
Since cumulated DNA strand breaks in brain cells can lead to neurodegenerative diseases and cancer and since an excess of free radicals has been suggested to be the cause of various human diseases, results from this study could have important implications for the health effects of radiofrequency exposure.
Study character:

Study funded by

  • not stated/no funding

Related articles

  • Deshmukh PS et al. (2013): Detection of Low Level Microwave Radiation Induced Deoxyribonucleic Acid Damage Vis-a-vis Genotoxicity in Brain of Fischer Rats.
  • Xu S et al. (2010): Exposure to 1800 MHz radiofrequency radiation induces oxidative damage to mitochondrial DNA in primary cultured neurons.
  • Belyaev IY et al. (2006): Exposure of rat brain to 915 MHz GSM microwaves induces changes in gene expression but not double stranded DNA breaks or effects on chromatin conformation.
  • Lai H et al. (1997): Melatonin and N-tert-butyl-alpha-phenylnitrone block 60-Hz magnetic field-induced DNA single and double strand breaks in rat brain cells.