Primary objective: Occupational exposure to static magnetic fields (SMF) increases, in particular due to the widespread use of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) for medical diagnosis, thus raising health concerns. This study investigated the behavioural effects of 128 mT SMF in rats and examined the hypothesis that iron supplementation (3 mg kg(-1) for 5 days) potentiate the effects of SMF.
Methods: Spatial learning abilities in the water maze, motor co-ordination in the rotarod and motor skills in the stationary beam and suspending string tests were assessed in iron-treated, SMF-exposed and co-exposed SMF-iron rats.
Results: Acquisition of the water maze navigation task was unaffected in all groups. SMF-exposed and iron-treated rats showed a deficit in the 7-day retention test. No deficit was found in the rotarod and suspended string tests in all groups. Only iron-treated rats were impaired in the stationary beam test. A combination of iron and SMF treatments did not produce additional degradation of performance in all tests.
Conclusion: SMF exposure had no massive effect but affected long-term spatial memory. Iron supplementation and 128 mT SMF had no synergistic effects.