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Effect of WiFi signal exposure in utero and early life on neurodevelopment and behaviors of rats


The aim of this study is to examine the long-term effects of prenatal and early-life WIFI signal exposure on neurodevelopment and behaviors as well as biochemical alterations of Wistar rats. On the first day of pregnancy (E0), expectant rats were allocated into two groups: the control group (n = 12) and the WiFi-exposed group (WiFi group, n = 12). WiFi group was exposed to turn on WiFi for 24 h/day from E0 to postnatal day (PND) 42. The control group was exposed to turn-off WiFi at the same time. On PND7-42, we evaluated the development and behavior of the offspring, including body weight, pain threshold, and swimming ability, spatial learning, and memory among others. Also, levels of proteins involved in apoptosis were analyzed histologically in the hippocampus in response to oxidative stress. The results showed that WiFi signal exposure in utero and early life (1) increased the body weight of WiFi + M (WiFi + male) group; (2) no change in neuro-behavioral development was observed in WiFi group; (3) increased learning and memory function in WiFi + M group; (4) enhanced comparative levels of BDNF and p-CREB proteins in the hippocampus of WiFi + M group; (5) no neuronal loss or degeneration was detected, and neuronal numbers in hippocampal CA1 were no evidently differences in each group; (6) no change in the apoptosis-related proteins (caspase-3 and Bax) levels; and (7) no difference in GSH-PX and SOD activities in the hippocampus. Prenatal WiFi exposure has no effects on hippocampal CA1 neurons, oxidative equilibrium in brain, and neurodevelopment of rats. Some effects of prenatal WiFi exposure are sex dependent. Prenatal WiFi exposure increased the body weight, improved the spatial memory and learning function, and induced behavioral hyperactivity of male rats.

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This work was supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81803255), the Natural Science Foundation of Heilongjiang Province (No. JJ2019LH2215), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Provincial Universities (JFYWH201901), Doctoral Research Initiation Fund (XQBSQDJ201901), Construction Project of Scientific Research and Innovation Team of Harbin Medical University-Daqing (HD-CXTD-202003), and Key Discipline Construction Project of Harbin Medical University-Daqing (HD-ZDXK-202005). The funding sources had no involvement in the conduct of the research or preparation of the manuscript.

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Authors and Affiliations



W. D. M. and P. W. designed the study; B. S., Y. M., P. C., J. W., and B. Z. performed the experiment; P. R., J. W., B. Z., and Y.C. analyzed data; H. W. and D. M. wrote and revised manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Peng Wang.

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Ethics approval and consent to participate

All experiments were conducted in accordance with the National Institutes of Health Guidelines for the Care and Use of Experimental Animals (NIH Publication No. 8023, revised 1978) and approved by the Ethics Committee of Daqing Campus, Harbin Medical University.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Responsible Editor: Mohamed M. Abdel-Daim

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• WiFi signal exposure in utero and early life increased the body weight of male rat.

• No change in neuro-behavioral development was observed in WiFi signal exposure group.

• WiFi signal exposure increased learning and memory function of male rat.

• WiFi signal exposure enhanced relative levels of BDNF and p-CREB proteins in the hippocampus.

• No neuronal loss and degeneration were observed in WiFi signal exposure group.

• No change of apoptosis-related proteins (Bax and caspase-3) and activities of SOD and GSH-PX in hippocampus were observed in WiFi signal exposure group.

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Wu, H., Min, D., Sun, B. et al. Effect of WiFi signal exposure in utero and early life on neurodevelopment and behaviors of rats. Environ Sci Pollut Res 30, 95892–95900 (2023).

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