Gene expression profile of Jurkat cells exposed to high power terahertz radiation

Jessica E. Grundt, Caleb C. Roth, Benjamin D. Rivest, Michael L. Doroski, Jason Payne, Bennett L. Ibey, Gerald J. Wilmink

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


Terahertz (THz) radiation sources are now being used in a host of military, defense, and medical applications. Widespread employment of these applications has prompted concerns regarding the health effects associated with THz radiation. In this study, we examined the gene expression profile of mammalian cells exposed to THz radiation. We hypothesized that if THz radiation couples directly to cellular constituents, then exposed cells may express a specific gene expression profile indicative of ensuing damage. To test this hypothesis, Jurkat cells were irradiated with a molecular gas THz laser (2.52 THz, 636 mWcm-2, durations: 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 minutes). Viability was assessed 24 h post-exposure using MTT assays, and gene expression profiles were evaluated 4 h post-exposure using mRNA microarrays. Comparable analyses were also performed for hyperthermic positive controls (44°C for 40 minutes). We found that cellular temperatures increased by ∼6 °C during THz exposures. We also found that cell death increased with exposure duration, and the median lethal dose (LD50) was calculated to be ∼44 minutes. The microarray data showed that THz radiation induced the transcriptional activation of genes associated with cellular proliferation, differentiation, transcriptional activation, chaperone protein stabilization, and apoptosis. For most genes, we found that the magnitude of differential expression was comparable for both the THz and thermal exposure groups; however, several genes were specifically activated by the THz exposure. These results suggest that THz radiation may elicit effects that are not exclusively due to the temperature rise created during THz exposures (i.e. thermal effects). In future work, we plan to verify the results of our microarray experiments using qPCR techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationOptical Interactions with Tissue and Cells XXII
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes
EventOptical Interactions with Tissue and Cells XXII - San Francisco, CA, United States
Duration: Jan 24 2011Jan 26 2011

Publication series

NameProgress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE
ISSN (Print)1605-7422


ConferenceOptical Interactions with Tissue and Cells XXII
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco, CA


  • Applications
  • Biomarkers
  • Gene expression
  • Heat shock
  • Hyperthermic
  • Terahertz
  • THz
  • Tissue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomaterials
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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