• high-field MRI;
  • DNA strand breakage;
  • micronuclei;
  • chromosome aberration


The clinical and preclinical use of high-field intensity (HF, 3 T and above) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners have significantly increased in the past few years. However, potential health risks are implied in the MRI and especially HF MRI environment due to high-static magnetic fields, fast gradient magnetic fields, and strong radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. In this study, the genotoxic potential of 3 T clinical MRI scans in cultured human lymphocytes in vitro was investigated by analyzing chromosome aberrations (CA), micronuclei (MN), and single-cell gel electrophoresis. Human lymphocytes were exposed to electromagnetic fields generated during MRI scanning (clinical routine brain examination protocols: three-channel head coil) for 22, 45, 67, and 89 min. We observed a significant increase in the frequency of single-strand DNA breaks following exposure to a 3 T MRI. In addition, the frequency of both CAs and MN in exposed cells increased in a time-dependent manner. The frequencies of MN in lymphocytes exposed to complex electromagnetic fields for 0, 22, 45, 67, and 89 min were 9.67, 11.67, 14.67, 18.00, and 20.33 per 1000 cells, respectively. Similarly, the frequencies of CAs in lymphocytes exposed for 0, 45, 67, and 89 min were 1.33, 2.33, 3.67, and 4.67 per 200 cells, respectively. These results suggest that exposure to 3 T MRI induces genotoxic effects in human lymphocytes. Bioelectromagnetics 32:535–542, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.