As the skin is the largest body organ and critically serves as a barrier, it is frequently exposed and could be physiologically affected by radiofrequency electromagnetic field (RF-EMF) exposure. In this study, we found that 1760 MHz RF-EMF (4.0 W/kg specific absorption rate for 2 h/day during 4 days) exposure could induce intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in HaCaT human keratinocytes using 2′,7′-dichlorofluorescin diacetate fluorescent probe analysis. However, cell growth and viability were unaffected by RF-EMF exposure. Since oxidative stress in the skin greatly influences the skin-aging process, we analyzed the skin senescence-related factors activated by ROS generation. Matrix metalloproteinases 1, 3, and 7 (MMP1, MMP3, and MMP7), the main skin wrinkle-related proteins, were significantly increased in HaCaT cells after RF-EMF exposure. Additionally, the gelatinolytic activities of secreted MMP2 and MMP9 were also increased by RF-EMF exposure. FoxO3a (Ser318/321) and ERK1/2 (Thr 202/Tyr 204) phosphorylation levels were significantly increased by RF-EMF exposure. However, Bcl2 and Bax expression levels were not significantly changed, indicating that the apoptotic pathway was not activated in keratinocytes following RF-EMF exposure. In summary, our findings show that exposure to 1760 MHz RF-EMF induces ROS generation, leading to MMP activation and FoxO3a and ERK1/2 phosphorylation. These data suggest that RF-EMF exposure induces cellular senescence of skin cells through ROS induction in HaCaT human keratinocytes.


In conclusion, exposure to 1760 MHz RF-EMF at 4 W/kg SAR induced intracellular ROS generation, which then stimulated MMPs (MMP1, 2, 3, 7, and 9) and activated the ERK1/2 (phospho-ERK1/2) and FoxO3a (phospho-FoxO3a) signaling pathways in HaCaT cells. Our results suggest that these changes induced by RF-EMF exposure would contribute to skin-aging processes.

Ju Hwan Kim, Dong-Jun Kang, Jun-Sang Bae, Jai Hyuen Lee, Sangbong Jeon, Hyung-Do Choi, Nam Kim, Hyung-Gun Kim, Hak Rim Kim. Activation of matrix metalloproteinases and FoxO3a in HaCaT keratinocytes by radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure. Sci Rep. 2021 Apr 7;11(1):7680. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-87263-2.


“The skin is the largest body organ and critically serves as a barrier by protecting humans from various external environmental stresses. Therefore, it is frequently exposed to and can be physiologically affected by RF-EMF insults. Notably, protein expression was found to be altered in human skin upon exposure to 900 MHz RF-EMF. It is thus important to study the biological effects of RF-EMF on the skin since body RF-EMF exposure would be delivered to the outermost skin and then penetrate into the skin.”
“As an outer soft tissue, skin-aging processes are accompanied by phenotypic changes in cutaneous cells with structural and functional changes in extracellular matrix components. Among various factors, oxidative stress in the skin greatly influences the skin-aging processes. Furthermore, skin aging is a crucial issue in biology and is caused by time-dependent internal and extrinsic factors such as ultraviolet (UV) light. Chronic UV exposure to skin induces oxidative stress, which greatly influences the skin-aging process. Oxidative stress in the skin mainly causes reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, which then activates matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-mediated aging, inflammation-mediated aging, and apoptosis-mediated aging. Notably, RF-EMFs stimulate ROS generation both in vivo, and in vitro,.
Share Source: Environmental Health Trust