Exposure to radiation from global system for mobile communications at 1,800 MHz significantly changes gene expression in rat hippocampus and cortex

Abstract

We have earlier shown that radio frequency electromagnetic fields can cause significant leakage of albumin through the blood–brain barrier of exposed rats as compared to non-exposed rats, and also significant neuronal damage in rat brains several weeks after a 2 h exposure to a mobile phone, at 915 MHz with a global system for mobile communications (GSM) frequency modulation, at whole-body specific absorption rate values (SAR) of 200, 20, 2, and 0.2 mW/kg. We have now studied whether 6 h of exposure to the radiation from a GSM mobile test phone at 1,800 MHz (at a whole-body SAR-value of 13 mW/kg, corresponding to a brain SAR-value of 30 mW/kg) has an effect upon the gene expression pattern in rat brain cortex and hippocampus—areas where we have observed albumin leakage from capillaries into neurons and neuronal damage. Microarray analysis of 31,099 rat genes, including splicing variants, was performed in cortex and hippocampus of 8 Fischer 344 rats, 4 animals exposed to global system for mobile communications electromagnetic fields for 6 h in an anechoic chamber, one rat at a time, and 4 controls kept as long in the same anechoic chamber without exposure, also in this case one rat at a time. Gene ontology analysis (using the gene ontology categories biological processes, molecular functions, and cell components) of the differentially expressed genes of the exposed animals versus the control group revealed the following highly significant altered gene categories in both cortex and hippocampus: extracellular region, signal transducer activity, intrinsic to membrane, and integral to membrane. The fact that most of these categories are connected with membrane functions may have a relation to our earlier observation of albumin transport through brain capillaries.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Susanne Strömblad and Catharina Blennow for excellent technical assistance. We acknowledge the help by microarray labwork and analysis by Ann-Sofie Albrekt at the Microarray Resource Centre at Lund University. This study was supported by the Hans and Märit Rausing Charitable Foundation, the Lund University Hospital Funds, the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation through the Swegene consortium and the Strategic Science Foundation (SSF) CREATE Health centre (MK).

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Correspondence to Leif G. Salford.

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Nittby, H., Widegren, B., Krogh, M. et al. Exposure to radiation from global system for mobile communications at 1,800 MHz significantly changes gene expression in rat hippocampus and cortex. Environmentalist 28, 458–465 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10669-008-9170-8

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Keywords

  • Blood–brain barrier
  • Gene expression
  • Gene ontology
  • Microwaves
  • Mobile phone