Biological effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF) on the blood-brain barrier (BBB) can be studied in sensitive and specific models. In a previous investigation of the permeability of the blood-brain barrier after exposure to the various EMF-components of proton magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), we found that the exposure to MRI induced leakage of Evans Blue labeled proteins normally not passing the BBB of rats [Salford et al. (1992), in: Resonance Phenomena in Biology, Oxford University Press, pp. 87-91]. In the present investigation we exposed male and female Fischer 344 rats in a transverse electromagnetic transmission line chamber to microwaves of 915 MHz as continuous wave (CW) and pulse-modulated with repetition rates of 8, 16, 50, and 200 s-1. The specific energy absorption rate (SAR) varied between 0.016 and 5 W/kg. The rats were not anesthetized during the 2-hour exposure. The results show albumin leakage in 5 of 62 of the controls and in 56 of 184 of the animals exposed to 915 MHz microwaves.
With the rapid increase in the number of mobile phone users, the potential adverse effects of the electromagnetic field radiation emitted by a mobile phone has become a serious concern. This study demonstrated, for the first time, the blood-brain barrier and cognitive changes in rats exposed to 900 MHz electromagnetic field (EMF) and aims to elucidate the potential molecular pathway underlying these changes. A total of 108 male Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to a 900 MHz, 1 mW/cm(2) EMF or sham (unexposed) for 14 or 28 days (3h per day). The specific energy absorption rate (SAR) varied between 0.016 (whole body) and 2 W/kg (locally in the head). In addition, the Morris water maze test was used to examine spatial memory performance determination. Morphological changes were investigated by examining ultrastructural changes in the hippocampus and cortex, and the Evans Blue assay was used to assess blood brain barrier (BBB) damage. Immunostaining was performed to identify heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1)-positive neurons and albumin extravasation detection. Western blot was used to determine HO-1 expression, phosphorylated ERK expression and the upstream mediator, mkp-1 expression. We found that the frequency of crossing platforms and the percentage of time spent in the target quadrant were lower in rats exposed to EMF for 28 days than in rats exposed to EMF for 14 days and unexposed rats. Moreover, 28 days of EMF exposure induced cellular edema and neuronal cell organelle degeneration in the rat. In addition, damaged BBB permeability, which resulted in albumin and HO-1 extravasation were observed in the hippocampus and cortex. Thus, for the first time, we found that EMF exposure for 28 days induced the expression of mkp-1, resulting in ERK dephosphorylation. Taken together, these results demonstrated that exposure to 900 MHz EMF radiation for 28 days can significantly impair spatial memory and damage BBB permeability in rat by activating the mkp-1/ERK pathway.