Cell Shape and Plasma Membrane Alterations after Static Magnetic Fields Exposure
Publication Type
Original research
  • Chionna A
  • Dwikat M
  • Panzarini E
  • Tenuzzo B
  • Carlà EC
  • Verri T
  • Pagliara P
  • Abbro L
  • Dini L

The biological effects of static magnetic fields (MFs) with intensity of 6 mT were investigated in lymphocytes and U937 cells in the presence or absence of apoptosis-inducing drugs by transmission (TEM) and scanning (SEM) electron microscopy. Lectin cytochemistry of ConA-FITC conjugates was used to analyze plasma membrane structural modifications. Static MFs modified cell shape, plasma membrane and increased the level of intracellular [Ca++] which plays an antiapoptotic role in both cell types. Modifications induced by the exposure to static MFs were irrespective of the presence or absence of apoptotic drugs or the cell type. Abundant lamellar-shaped microvilli were observed upon 24 hrs of continuous exposure to static MFs in contrast to the normally rough surface of U937 cells having numerous short microvilli. Conversely, lymphocytes lost their round shape and became irregularly elongated; lamellar shaped microvilli were found when cells were simultaneously exposed to static MFs and apoptosis-inducing drugs. In our experiments, static MFs reduced the smoothness of the cell surface and partially impeded changes in distribution of cell surface glycans, both features being typical of apoptotic cells. Cell shape and plasma membrane structure modifications upon static MFs exposure were time-dependent. Lamellar microvilli were clearly observed before the distortion of cell shape, which was found at long times of exposure. MFs exposure promoted the rearrangement of F-actin filaments which, in turn, could be responsible for the cell surface modifications. Here we report data that support biological effects of static MFs on U937 cells and human lymphocytes. However, the involvement of these modifications in the onset of diseases needs to be further elucidated.

European Journal of Histochemistry, 2003;47(4):299-308.
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