Exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) causes increased adverse effects on biological systems. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of EMF on heart tissue by biochemical and histomorphological evaluations in EMF-exposed adult rats. In this study, 28 male Wistar rats weighing 200-250 g were used. The rats were divided into two groups: sham group (n = 14) and EMF group (n = 14). Rats in sham group were exposed to same conditions as the EMF group except the exposure to EMF. Rats in EMF group were exposed to a 50-Hz EMF of 3 mT for 4 h/day and 7 days/week for 2 months. After 2 months of exposure, rats were killed; the hearts were excised and evaluated. Determination of oxidative stress parameters was performed spectrophotometrically. To detect apoptotic cells, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) staining and caspase-3 immunohistochemistry were performed. In EMF-exposed group, levels of lipid peroxidation significantly increased and activities of superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase decreased compared with sham group. The number of TUNEL-positive cells and caspase-3 immunoreactivity increased in EMF-exposed rats compared with sham. Under electron microscopy, there were mitochondrial degeneration, reduction in myofibrils, dilated sarcoplasmic reticulum and perinuclear vacuolization in EMF-exposed rats. In conclusion, the results show that the exposure to EMF causes oxidative stress, apoptosis and morphologic damage in myocardium of adult rats. The results of our study indicate that EMF-related changes in rat myocardium could be the result of increased oxidative stress. Further studies are needed to demonstrate whether the exposure to EMF can induce adverse effects on myocardium.
Keywords: Electromagnetic field; apoptosis; myocardium; oxidative stress; ultrastructure.