Background: The use of Static Magnetic Fields (SMFs) in medicine, industry, and new
technologies has significantly increased in the past few years. However, the potential health risks concerning
the exposure to static magnetic fields remain a topic of debate.
Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the influence of moderate static magnetic fields
(SMFs) on human SH-SY5Y neuronal-like cells.
Methods: SH-SY5Y differentiated to a neuronal phenotype by retinoic acid were exposed to 2.2 mT
SMFs up to 24 h, and then cell viability, mitochondrial transmembrane potential and intracellular reactive
oxygen species production were tested. In addition, changes in cellular molecules were evaluated
by Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR).
Results: Although the exposure of neuronal-like cells to SMFs did not induce changes on cell viability,
in cell cultures exposed to 2.2 mT SMFs for 24 h a decrease in membrane mitochondrial potential up to
30%, associated to an increase of reactive oxygen species production was observed. Additionally,
FTIR analysis evidenced alterations in protein and lipid cell components. In particular, after short
times of exposure to 2.2 mT SMFs we found an increase in the intensity of CH2/CH3 ratio, indicating
an increase in the lipid content. Instead, prolonged exposure to SMFs induced an increase in β-sheets
content with respect to α-helix.
Conclusion: On the whole, these findings suggest that the exposure to moderate SMFs may induce
substantial alterations in neuronal cell homeostasis, associated to mitochondrial impairment, oxidative
stress and changes in protein and lipid structures.