Probing the Origins of 1,800 MHz Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Radiation Induced Damage in Mouse Immortalized Germ Cells and Spermatozoa.
Front Public Health. 2018 ;6:270. Epub 2018 Sep 21. PMID: 30298125
Brendan J Houston
As the use of mobile phone devices is now highly prevalent, many studies have sought to evaluate the effects of the radiofrequency-electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) on both human health and biology. While several such studies have shown RF-EMR is capable of inducing cellular stress, the physicobiological origin of this stress remains largely unresolved. To explore the effect of RF-EMR on the male reproductive system, we exposed cultured mouse spermatogonial GC1 and spermatocyte GC2 cell lines, as well as cauda epididymal spermatozoa to a waveguide generating continuous wave RF-EMR (1.8 GHz, 0.15 and 1.5 W/kg). This study demonstrated that a 4 h exposure is capable of inducing the generation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) in populations of GC1 (7 vs. 18%;<0.001) and GC2 cells (11.5 vs. 16 %;<0.01), identifying Complex III of the electron transport chain (ETC) as the potential source of electrons producing ROS. Assessing the generation of ROS in the presence of an antioxidant, penicillamine, as well as measuring lipid peroxidation via 4-hydroxynonenal levels, indicated that the elevated incidence of ROS generation observed under our exposure conditions did not necessarily induce an overt cellular oxidative stress response. However, exposure to RF-EMR at 0.15 W/kg for 3 h did induce significant DNA fragmentation in spermatozoa (that was no longer significant after 4 h), assessed by the alkaline comet assay (<0.05). Furthermore, this fragmentation was accompanied by an induction of oxidative DNA damage in the form of 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine, which was significant (<0.05) after spermatozoa were exposed to RF-EMR for 4 h. At this exposure time point, a decline in sperm motility (<0.05) was also observed. This study contributes new evidence toward elucidating a mechanism to account for the effects of RF-EMR on biological systems, proposing Complex III of the mitochondrial ETC as the key target of this radiation.