Effect of global system for mobile communication (GSM) microwave exposure on blood-brain barrier permeability in rat
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We investigated the effects of global system for mobile communication (GSM) microwave exposure on the permeability of the blood-brain barrier using a calibrated microwave exposure system in the 900 MHz band. Rats were restrained in a carousel of circularly arranged plastic tubes and sham-exposed or microwave irradiated for a duration of 4 h at specific brain absorption rates (SAR) ranging from 0.3 to 7.5 W/kg. The extravasation of proteins was assessed either at the end of exposure or 7 days later in three to five coronal brain slices by immunohistochemical staining of serum albumin. As a positive control two rats were subjected to cold injury. In the brains of freely moving control rats (n = 20) only one spot of extravasated serum albumin could be detected in one animal. In the sham-exposed control group (n = 20) three animals exhibited a total of 4 extravasations. In animals irradiated for 4 h at SAR of 0.3, 1.5 and 7.5 W/kg (n = 20 in each group) five out of the ten animals of each group killed at the end of the exposure showed 7, 6 and 14 extravasations, respectively. In the ten animals of each group killed 7 days after exposure, the total number of extravasations was 2, 0 and 1, respectively. The increase in serum albumin extravasations after microwave exposure reached significance only in the group exposed to the highest SAR of 7.5 W/kg but not at the lower intensities. Histological injury was not observed in any of the examined brains. Compared to other pathological conditions with increased blood-brain barrier permeability such as cold injury, the here observed serum albumin extravasations are very modest and, moreover, reversible. Microwave exposure in the frequency and intensity range of mobile telephony is unlikely to produce pathologically significant changes of the blood-brain barrier permeability.
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