Terahertz radiation increases genomic instability in human lymphocytes

Avital Korenstein-Ilan, Alexander Barbul, Pini Hasin, Alon Eliran, Avraham Gover, Rafi Korenstein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Terahertz radiation is increasingly being applied in new and evolving technologies applied in areas such as homeland security and medical imaging. Thus a timely assessment of the potential hazards and health effects of occupational and general population exposure to THz radiation is required. We applied continuous-wave (CW) 0.1 THz radiation (0.031 mW/cm2) to dividing lymphocytes for 1, 2 and 24 h and examined the changes in chromosome number of chromosomes 1, 10, 11 and 17 and changes in the replication timing of their centromeres using interphase fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). Chromosomes 11 and 17 were most vulnerable (about 30% increase in aneuploidy after 2 and 24 h of exposure), while chromosomes 1 and 10 were not affected. We observed changes in the asynchronous mode of replication of centromeres 11, 17 and 1 (by 40%) after 2 h of exposure and of all four centromeres after 24 h of exposure (by 50%). It is speculated that these effects are caused by radiation-induced lowf-requency collective vibrational modes of proteins and DNA. Our results demonstrate that exposure of lymphocytes in vitro to a low power density of 0.1 THz radiation induces genomic instability. These findings, if verified, may suggest that such exposure may result in an increased risk of cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-234
Number of pages11
JournalRadiation Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2008


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