Morphological and antioxidant impairments in the spinal cord of male offspring rats following exposure to a continuous 900-MHz electromagnetic field during early and mid-adolescence
İkinci A, Mercantepe T, Unal D, Erol HS, Şahin A, Aslan A, Baş O, Erdem H, Sönmez O, Kaya H, Odacı E. Morphological and antioxidant impairments in the spinal cord of male offspring rats following exposure to a continuous 900-MHz electromagnetic field during early and mid-adolescence. J Chem Neuroanat. 2015 Dec 17. pii: S0891-0618(15)00096-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jchemneu.2015.11.
• Spinal cords of male rats were investigated following exposure to 900 MHz EMF.
• Tissue malondialdehyde and glutathione levels increased in the EMF group.
• Light microscopy revealed atrophy in the spinal cord in the EMF group.
• TEM revealed invagination into the axon in the EMF group.
• TEM revealed loss of myelin sheath integrity in the EMF group.
The effects on human health of devices emitting electromagnetic field (EMF) have become the subject of intense research among scientists due to the rapid increase in their use. Children and adolescents are particularly attracted to the use of devices emitting EMF, such as mobile phones. The aim of this study was therefore to investigate changes in the spinal cords of male rat pups exposed to the effect of 900 megahertz (MHz) EMF.
The study began with 24 Sprague Dawley male rats aged 3 weeks. Three groups containing equal numbers of rats were established - control group (CG), sham group (SG) and EMF group (EMFG). EMFG rats were placed inside an EMF cage every day between postnatal days (PD) 21 and 46 and exposed to the effect of 900MHz EMF for 1hour. SG rats were kept in the EMF cage for 1hour without being exposed to the effect of EMF. At the end of the study, the spinal cords in the upper thoracic region of all rats were removed. Tissues were collected for biochemistry, light microscopy (LM) and transmission electron microscopic (TEM) examination.
Biochemistry results revealed significantly increased malondialdehyde and glutathione levels in EMFG compared to CG and SG, while SG and EMFG catalase and superoxide dismutase levels were significantly higher than those in CG. In EMFG, LM revealed atrophy in the spinal cord, vacuolization, myelin thickening and irregularities in the perikarya. TEM revealed marked loss of myelin sheath integrity and invagination into the axon and broad vacuoles in axoplasm.
The study results show that biochemical alterations and pathological changes may occur in the spinal cords of male rats following exposure to 900MHz EMF for 1hour a day on PD 21-46.
... On the basis of measurements throughout the study with the cage empty, positional mean EMF intensity was 10.6 V/m beneath the cage and 7.1 V/m inside it. The positional mean EMF intensity with rats inside the cage was 8.9 V/m beneath the cage and 7.3 V/m inside it (Table 1). The whole-body specific absorption rate (SAR) was calculated at 0.01 W/kg .... According to these measurements, rats were exposed to a mean electrical field intensity of 7.3 V/m inside the cage (0.21 W/m2). Although our continuous 900 MHz EMF exposure system does not completely represent the effects of mobile phones etc. on humans, this value is regarded as equivalent to the intensity of EMF that mobile phones in speak mode can create in their immediate surroundings (mean 1–10 V/m for variables, i.e., mobile phone model and distance from the base station). These values are the limit values set out for a single source in GSM-900 base station systems ....
Although it is impossible to make direct deductions concerning humans on the basis of the results of animal studies, the results of studies using rodents can be compared with humans at the same stage of development, irrespective of whether they are fetal, prenatal or postnatal (Rodier, 1980, Jacobson, 1991 and Odaci et al., 2004). For example, the neonatal period of the CNS in rodents is comparable to the last trimester in humans (Dobbing, 1970, Dobbing and Sands, 1973, Rodier, 1980, Jacobson, 1991 and Odaci et al., 2008). The study results may therefore be interpreted as meaning that prolonged and continuous exposure to 900 MHz EMF in the gestational period can compromise development of the human fetus spinal cord. In conclusion, our results show that continuous exposure to 900 MHz EMF for 1 h a day in early and middle adolescence causes degenerative changes in the rat spinal cord, such as atrophy, vacuolization, thickening and compromise in the myelin sheath, losses in axon cytoplasm and significant changes in MDA, SOD and CAT levels in spinal cord tissue.
Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D., Director
Center for Family and Community Health
School of Public Health
University of California, Berkeley
Electromagnetic Radiation Safety
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