Intense THz pulses cause H2AX phosphorylation and activate DNA damage response in human skin tissue

Lyubov V. Titova, Ayesheshim K. Ayesheshim, Audrey Golubov, Dawson Fogen, Rocio Rodiiguez-Juuez, Frank A. Hegmann, and Olga Kovalchuk

Recent emergence and growing use of terahertz (11-Iz) radiation for medical imaging and public security screening raise questions on reasonable levels of exposure and health consequences of this form of electromagnetic radiation. In particular, picosecond-duration 11-Iz pulses have shown promise for novel diagnostic imaging techniques. However, the effects of THz pulses on human cells and tissues thus far remain largely unknown. We report on the investigation of the biological effects of pulsed THz radiation on artificial human skin tissues. We observe that exposure to intense THz pulses for ten minutes leads to a significant induction of H2AX phosphorylation, indicating that THz pulses for ten minutes may cause DNA damage in exposed skin tissue. At the same time, we find a THz-pulse induced increase in the levels of several proteins responsible for cell-cycle regulation and tumor suppression, suggesting that DNA damage repair mechanisms are quickly activated. Furthermore, we find that the cellular response to pulsed THz radiation is significantly different from that induced by exposure to UVA (400 nm).


Tetrahertz (THz) radiation, H2AX phosphorylation, DNA damage, cell-cycle regulation, tumor suppression, EFT-400, UVA, p53, EFR1, KU70, p21, p16, p15, p27

Materials Tested

UVA, Tetrahertz radiation

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