Category: In vitro studies


Cellular stresses related to millimeter waves

1srt results published





New electromagnetic exposures artificially induced in our environment by emerging wireless short-range high rate communication systems (e.g. WiHDTM) could have unforeseen consequences upon the population. We propose an in vitro study to determine the potential direct or combined effects of low-power millimeter waves (frequency sub-band 57-64 GHz) upon the cellular processes related to stress.






Zhadobov et al., (2008)

Numerical and Experimental Millimeter-Wave Dosimetry for in vitro Experiments

Accepté à IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques

Read the abstract


Nicolas Nicolaz et al., (2008)

Absence of direct effect of low-power millimeter-wave radiation at 60.4 GHz on endoplasmic reticulum stress

Accepté à Cell Biology and Toxicology

Read the abstract




Université de Rennes I – Equipe « Homéostasie Intracellulaire des Protéines » UMR CNRS 6026


Institut d’Electronique et de Télécommunications de Rennes (IETR) – UMR CNRS 6164



Yves LE DREAN – Université de Rennes I

mailto:[email protected]



24 months




Key words: low-power millimeter waves (60-GHz band), WiHD, biological effects, cellular stress (chaperones, reticulum), gene expression, human brain cells, in vitro studies.


The wireless communication systems (WCS) operating at microwave frequencies have been widely deployed over the last decade. Due to the saturation of the lower part of the microwave spectrum and the need of very high data rate transmissions (multimedia contents), the operating frequencies of emerging civil and professional WCS have recently shifted towards the millimeter wave (MMW) frequency bands. Frequencies around 60GHz are defined by the leading telecommunication companies as frequencies of the next generation wireless high-rate short-range digital networks (e. g. WiHDTM). Due to the absence of 60-GHz radiations from the natural spectrum, biological organisms have never been exposed to this radiation, so that WCS could have unforeseen consequences upon the population. Therefore, the knowledge of the potential impacts of low-power 60-GHz MMWs on human health is of utmost importance. We propose an in vitro study to verify if these radiations can disturb the cellular physiology.


This project will permit to verify if low-power MMWs could potentiate or alter the sensitivity of the human cells to various insults known to generate diseases. The major outcome of this project consists in an extension of the knowledge about the human health risks due to the exposures induced by emerging WCS, in order to anticipate their very large deployment for professional, domestic and personal uses. The extensive results of this project will allow to evaluate the roles of the major radiation parameters and thus to contribute to the development of MMW standards and recommendations for the international community.


We propose to investigate the gene expression modifications induced by exposure of human cell cultures to the radiations of near-future communication systems. This work will be carried out by quantitative RT-PCR on candidate genes and will be completed by exploratory genomic approaches to validate new sets of biomarkers for response to MMW radiations.


The innovation and the originality of this project are twofold:


1- Frequency band and spectroscopic approach

Potential bioeffects of low-power MMW exposures around 60GHz have been weakly investigated so far. We will analyze the role of the main radiation parameters, including frequency, power density, modulation, polarization, and time regimes of exposure. The target frequencies are located within the 57-64GHz band (Standardization IEEE 802.15.3c). The expertise of IETR in the field of MMW propagation and bioelectromagnetics will ensure the design and development of specific exposure systems, as well as the definition of the exact radiation parameters that might be involved in bioelectromagnetic interactions. The choice of the exact frequencies will be determined using microwave spectroscopy data providing resonant frequencies of biomolecules.


2- Types of cellular stress

Biological effects of microwaves and MMWs are classically evaluated through the expression of heat shock proteins (HSPs). In this project, we propose to extent the study to other highly antiapoptotic stress proteins, particularly those involved in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. ER stress proteins are sensitive to a wide variety of environmental conditions. Indeed, ER is a cellular compartment where proteins are very concentrated and is vulnerable to many disturbances, including ion flow, membrane modifications, local oxygen pressure changes, or redox imbalance. In addition to their physiopathological importance, ER stress proteins could be particularly relevant cellular targets of MMWs.



This interdisciplinary project is proposed by two CNRS research teams with a very strong expertise and international recognition in their respective research fields:

– biological responses to proteotoxic stresses (« Intracellular protein homeostasis », UMR CNRS 6026;,

– MMW antennas and electromagnetic field propagation (« Institut d’Électronique et de Télécommunications de Rennes », IETR, UMR CNRS 6164;










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