Exposure to cell phone radiation up-regulates apoptosis genes in primary cultures of neurons and astrocytes

Neurosci Lett. 2007 Jan 22;412(1):34-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2006.09.092. Epub 2006 Dec 21.


The health effects of cell phone radiation exposure are a growing public concern. This study investigated whether expression of genes related to cell death pathways are dysregulated in primary cultured neurons and astrocytes by exposure to a working Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) cell phone rated at a frequency of 1900MHz. Primary cultures were exposed to cell phone emissions for 2h. We used array analysis and real-time RT-PCR to show up-regulation of caspase-2, caspase-6 and Asc (apoptosis associated speck-like protein containing a card) gene expression in neurons and astrocytes. Up-regulation occurred in both "on" and "stand-by" modes in neurons, but only in "on" mode in astrocytes. Additionally, astrocytes showed up-regulation of the Bax gene. The effects are specific since up-regulation was not seen for other genes associated with apoptosis, such as caspase-9 in either neurons or astrocytes, or Bax in neurons. The results show that even relatively short-term exposure to cell phone radiofrequency emissions can up-regulate elements of apoptotic pathways in cells derived from the brain, and that neurons appear to be more sensitive to this effect than astrocytes.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / radiation effects*
  • Astrocytes / radiation effects*
  • Brain / cytology
  • Caspases / genetics
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Cell Phone*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Female
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / radiation effects*
  • Pregnancy
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Radiation*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor-Associated Peptides and Proteins / genetics
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor-Associated Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation / radiation effects*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor-Associated Peptides and Proteins
  • Caspases