Whether exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) emitted from mobile phones can induce DNA damage in male germ cells remains unclear. In this study, we conducted a 24h intermittent exposure (5 min on and 10 min off) of a mouse spermatocyte-derived GC-2 cell line to 1800 MHz Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) signals in GSM-Talk mode at specific absorption rates (SAR) of 1 W/kg, 2 W/kg or 4 W/kg. Subsequently, through the use of formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase (FPG) in a modified comet assay, we determined that the extent of DNA migration was significantly increased at a SAR of 4 W/kg. Flow cytometry analysis demonstrated that levels of the DNA adduct 8-oxoguanine (8-oxoG) were also increased at a SAR of 4 W/kg. These increases were concomitant with similar increases in the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS); these phenomena were mitigated by co-treatment with the antioxidant α-tocopherol. However, no detectable DNA strand breakage was observed by the alkaline comet assay. Taking together, these findings may imply the novel possibility that RF-EMR with insufficient energy for the direct induction of DNA strand breaks may produce genotoxicity through oxidative DNA base damage in male germ cells.
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