Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
In recent years, terahertz (THz) radiation has been widely used in a variety of applications: medical, security, telecommunications and military areas. However, few data are available on the biological effects of this type of electromagnetic radiation and the reported results, using different genetic or cellular assays, are quite discordant. This multidisciplinary study focuses on potential genotoxic and cytotoxic effects, evaluated by several end-points, associated with THz radiation. For this purpose, in vitro exposure of human foetal fibroblasts to low frequency THz radiation (0.1-0.15THz) was performed using a Compact Free Electron Laser. We did not observe an induction of DNA damage evaluated by Comet assay, phosphorylation of H2AX histone or telomere length modulation. In addiction, no induction of apoptosis or changes in pro-survival signalling proteins were detected. Moreover, our results indicated an increase in the total number of micronuclei and centromere positive micronuclei induction evaluated by CREST analysis, indicating that THz radiation could induce aneugenic rather than clastogenic effects, probably leading to chromosome loss. Furthermore, an increase of actin polymerization observed by ultrastructural analysis after THz irradiation, supports the hypothesis that an abnormal assembly of spindle proteins could lead to the observed chromosomal malsegregation.