Extremely Low Frequency Magnetic Field (ELF-MF) Exposure Sensitizes SH-SY5Y Cells to the Pro-Parkinson’s Disease Toxin MPP

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Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by dopaminergic neuron loss, with an etiopathogenesis involving both genetic and environmental factors. The occupational/residential exposure to the electromagnetic fields has been recently associated with an increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases; it has been thus proposed that the extremely low frequency magnetic field (ELF-MF) may contribute to neurodegenerative etiopathogenesis, as its interaction with biological systems directly impairs redox homeostasis in specific areas of the brain. The molecular mechanisms elicited by ELF-MF, and their potential involvement in PD onset, still remain unclear. To this end, we set up a generator of ELF-MF able to stably and homogeneously reproduce environmental prolonged exposure to ELF-MF (50 Hz, 1 mT). Results obtained indicate that ELF-MF exposure alters cell response of SH-SY5Y cells to MPP+. We demonstrate that ELF-MF does not affect per se survival, shape, and morphology of both proliferating and differentiated SH-SY5Y cells but significantly impairs redox homeostasis and thiol content, triggering an increase in protein carbonylation. As a result, toxicity of MPP+, even at low doses, is highly enhanced in ELF-MF-exposed cells due to a significant increase in ROS levels, potentiation of oxidative damage, and induction of a caspase-dependent apoptosis. Pre-incubation with the thiol antioxidants N-acetyl-l-cysteine and GSH ethyl-ester significantly reduces the extent of oxidative damage and protects cells from death induced by the combined treatment ELF-MF/MPP+. Taken overall, our results demonstrate the redox-based molecular interaction between ELF-MF and PD neurotoxins in vitro, and open a new scenario for defining the synergy of environmental factors in PD onset.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4247 - 4260
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Neurobiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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