To determine if microwave exposure could elicit a biological effect in the absence of thermal stress, studies were designed in which chick embryos were exposed to athermal microwave radiation (915 MHz) to look for induction of Hsp70, a protein produced during times of cellular stress that aids in the protection of cellular components. Levels of Hsp70 were found to increase within 2 h, with maximum expression ( approximately 30% higher than controls) typically occurring by 3 h from the start of exposure. Other embryos were exposed to microwave radiation prior to being subjected to hypoxic stress, and were found to have significantly higher survival (P < 0.05) following re-oxygenation than non-exposed controls. The results of these studies indicate that not only can athermal microwave exposures activate the stress protein response pathway; they can also enhance survivability following exposure to a subsequent, potentially lethal stress. From a public health standpoint, it is important that more studies be performed to determine if repeated exposures, a condition likely to be found in cell phone use, are still beneficial.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.