Ion-Radiation induced Effects on Cardiac Cells

The effects of heavy ion radiation (HIR) on the cardiovascular system are mostly unknown, especially electrophysiological data directly after acute irradiations are very rare. However, an assessment of possible effects of ionizing radiation on the heart is dearly needed. For instance in radio-therapy as well as in the planning of manned space missons. As astronauts may be stationed in an environment such as space, for several months, where there is virtually no protection from the effects of radiation. In this project, contracting in vitro cultures of cardiac cells are irradiated at the Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research and are investigated in terms of electrophysiology and molecular responses on the cellular level. Electrophysiology is explored applying the benefits of the microelectrode array (MEA) technology. This method, which is already widely used in pharmacological safety screenings, allows to record and analyze the ion current-driven electrophysiologic behaviour of the cultures.

Signal propagation across the electrode array
Cardiac field actionpotential recorded from a MEA-chip
Microelectrode Array chip with cardiac cells cultured in the center

Non ionizing radiation Effects

FEM simulation of electromagnetic field distribution in the cell culture exposition chamber

Despite all efforts, the basic mechanisms of electromagnetic radiation in living cells are still not completely understood. The essential challenge in this area of research is the combination of biological requirements and well-defined RF test conditions in order to get reliable measurement results. At present, various setups for electromagnetic field generation are used to expose in vitro cell cultures. Typically the field is generated in cavities where standing waves with minima and maxima are undesirable physical phenomena. Therefore type and size of culturing bins and exposition frequencies are exactly specified.


To contribute a more flexible solution for the exposition of biological samples we designed an open TEM-cell in form of a stripline. This chamber is biocompatible, temperature controlled and allows all forms of bins and a large range of frequencies and field strengths, respectively SAR levels.