Objective: To investigate the changes of gene expression in rat neuron induced by 1.8 GHz radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF EMF) to screen for RF EMF-responsive genes and the effect of different exposure times and modes on the gene expression in neuron.
Methods: Total RNA was extracted immediately and purified from the primary culture of neurons after intermittent exposed or sham-exposed to a frequency of 1.8 GHz RF EMF for 24 hours at an average special absorption rate (SAR) of 2 W/kg. Affymetrix Rat Neurobiology U34 array was applied to investigate the changes of gene expression in rat neuron. Differentially expressed genes (Egr-1, Mbp and Plp) were further confirmed by semi-quantitative revere transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT PCR). The expression levels of Egr-1, Mbp and Plp were observed at different exposure times (6, 24 h) and modes (intermittent and continuous exposure).
Results: Among 1200 candidate genes, 24 up-regulated and 10 down-regulated genes were found by using Affymetrix microarray suite software 5.0 which are associated with multiple cellular functions (cytoskeleton, signal transduction pathway, metabolism, etc.) after functional classification. Under 24 h and 6 h intermittent exposure, Egr-1 and Plp in experiment groups showed statistic significance (P < 0.05) compared with the control groups, while expression of Mbp did not change significantly (P > 0.05). After 24 h continuous exposure, Egr-1 and Mbp in experiment groups showed statistic significance (P < 0.05) compared with the control group, while expression of Plp did not change significantly (P > 0.05). Under the same exposure mode 6 h, expression of all the 3 genes did not change significantly. Different times (6, 24 h) and modes (intermittent and continuous exposure) of exposure exerted remarkable different influences on the expression of Egr-1, Mbp, Plp genes (P < 0.01).
Conclusion: The changes of many genes transcription were involved in the effect of 1.8 GHz RF EMF on rat neurons; Down-regulation of Egr-1 and up-regulation of Mbp, Plp indicated the negative effects of RF EMF on neurons; The effect of RF intermittent exposure on gene expression was more obvious than that of continuous exposure; The effect of 24 h RF exposure (both intermittent and continuous) on gene expression was more obvious than that of 6 h (both intermittent and continuous).