Given the widespread use of the cellular phone today, investigation of potential biological effects of radiofrequency (RF) fields has become increasingly important. In particular, much research has been conducted on RF effects on brain function. To examine any biological effects on the central nervous system (CNS) induced by 1950 MHz modulation signals, which are controlled by the International Mobile Telecommunication-2000 (IMT-2000) cellular system, we investigated the effect of RF fields on microglial cells in the brain. We assessed functional changes in microglial cells by examining changes in immune reaction-related molecule expression and cytokine production after exposure to a 1950 MHz Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (W-CDMA) RF field, at specific absorption rates (SARs) of 0.2, 0.8, and 2.0 W/kg. Primary microglial cell cultures prepared from neonatal rats were subjected to an RF or sham field for 2 h. Assay samples obtained 24 and 72 h after exposure were processed in a blind manner. Results showed that the percentage of cells positive for major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II, which is the most common marker for activated microglial cells, was similar between cells exposed to W-CDMA radiation and sham-exposed controls. No statistically significant differences were observed between any of the RF field exposure groups and the sham-exposed controls in percentage of MHC class II positive cells. Further, no remarkable differences in the production of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta), and interleukin-6 (IL-6) were observed between the test groups exposed to W-CDMA signal and the sham-exposed negative controls. These findings suggest that exposure to RF fields up to 2 W/kg does not activate microglial cells in vitro.
(c) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.