We report an investigation on the influence of high frequency electromagnetic fields (EMF) on the permeability of an in vitro model of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Our model was a co-culture consisting of rat astrocytes and porcine brain capillary endothelial cells (BCEC). Samples were characterized morphologically by scanning electron microscopy and immunocytochemistry. The BBB phenotype of the BCEC was shown by the presence of zona occludens protein (ZO-1) as a marker for tight junctions and the close contact of the cells together with the absence of intercellular clefts. Permeability measurements using (14)C-sucrose indicated a physiological tightness which correlated with the morphological findings and verified the usefulness of our in vitro model. Samples were exposed to EMF conforming to the GSM1800-standard used in mobile telephones (1.8 GHz). The permeability of the samples was monitored over four days and compared with results of samples that were cultured identically but not exposed to EMF. Exposure to EMF increased permeability for (14)C-sucrose significantly compared to unexposed samples. The underlying pathophysiological mechanism remains to be investigated.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.