Exposure to an 890-MHz mobile phone-like signal and serum levels of S100B and transthyretin in volunteers

Toxicol Lett. 2009 Aug 25;189(1):63-6. doi: 10.1016/j.toxlet.2009.04.027. Epub 2009 May 7.


Whether low-intensity non-thermal microwave radiation alters the integrity of the blood-brain barrier has been debated since the late 1970s, yet no experimental study has been carried out on humans. The aim of this study was to test, using peripheral markers, whether exposure to a mobile phone-like signal alters the integrity of the human blood-brain and blood-cerebrospinal fluid barriers. A provocation study was carried out that exposed 41 volunteers to a 30 min GSM 890 MHz signal with an average specific energy absorption rate distribution of 1.0 W/kg in the temporal area of the head as measured over any 1g of contiguous tissue. The outcome was assessed by changes in serum concentrations of two putative markers of brain barrier integrity, S100B and transthyretin. Repeated blood sampling before and after the provocation showed no statistically significant increase in the serum levels of S100B, while for transthyretin a statistically significant increase was seen in the final blood sample 60 min after the end of the provocation as compared to the prior sample taken immediately after provocation (p=0.02). The clinical significance of this finding, if any, is unknown. Further randomized studies with use of additional more brain specific markers are needed.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / radiation effects*
  • Cell Phone*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microwaves / adverse effects*
  • Nerve Growth Factors / blood*
  • Prealbumin / analysis*
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein beta Subunit
  • S100 Proteins / blood*
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Prealbumin
  • S100 Calcium Binding Protein beta Subunit
  • S100 Proteins
  • S100B protein, human