Effects of 900 MHz radiofrequency on corticosterone, emotional memory and neuroinflammation in middle-aged rats

Exp Gerontol. 2012 Jun;47(6):444-51. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2012.03.015. Epub 2012 Apr 6.


The widespread use of mobile phones raises the question of the effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF, 900 MHz) on the brain. Previous studies reported increased levels of the glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) in the rat's brain after a single exposure to 900 MHz global system for mobile (GSM) signal, suggesting a potential inflammatory process. While this result was obtained in adult rats, no data is currently available in older animals. Since the transition from middle-age to senescence is highly dependent on environment and lifestyle, we studied the reactivity of middle-aged brains to EMF exposure. We assessed the effects of a single 15 min GSM exposure (900 MHz; specific absorption rate (SAR)=6 W/kg) on GFAP expression in young adults (6 week-old) and middle-aged rats (12 month-old). Brain interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-6, plasmatic levels of corticosterone (CORT), and emotional memory were also assessed. Our data indicated that, in contrast to previously published work, acute GSM exposure did not induce astrocyte activation. Our results showed an IL-1β increase in the olfactory bulb and enhanced contextual emotional memory in GSM-exposed middle-aged rats, and increased plasmatic levels of CORT in GSM-exposed young adults. Altogether, our data showed an age dependency of reactivity to GSM exposure in neuro-immunity, stress and behavioral parameters. Reproducing these effects and studying their mechanisms may allow a better understanding of mobile phone EMF effects on neurobiological parameters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Aging / psychology
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / radiation effects
  • Cell Phone
  • Conditioning, Classical
  • Corticosterone / blood*
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / metabolism
  • Interleukin-1beta / metabolism
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Memory / radiation effects*
  • Neurogenic Inflammation / etiology*
  • Neurogenic Inflammation / metabolism
  • Neuroimmunomodulation / physiology
  • Neuroimmunomodulation / radiation effects
  • Radiation Injuries / etiology
  • Radiation Injuries / metabolism
  • Radio Waves / adverse effects*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Interleukin-6
  • Corticosterone