Changes in synaptic efficacy in rat brain slices following extremely low-frequency magnetic field exposure at embryonic and early postnatal age

Int J Dev Neurosci. 2013 Dec;31(8):724-30. doi: 10.1016/j.ijdevneu.2013.08.004. Epub 2013 Sep 6.


An earlier study demonstrated changes in synaptic efficacy and seizure susceptibility in adult rat brain slices following extremely low-frequency magnetic field (ELF-MF) exposure. The developing embryonic and early postnatal brain may be even more sensitive to MF exposure. The aim of the present study was to determine the effects of a long-term ELF-MF (0.5 and 3 mT, 50 Hz) exposure on synaptic functions in the developing brain. Rats were treated with chronic exposure to MF during two critical periods of brain development, i.e. in utero during the second gestation week or as newborns for 7 days starting 3 days after birth, respectively. Excitability and plasticity of neocortical and hippocampal areas were tested on brain slices by analyzing extracellular evoked field potentials. We demonstrated that the basic excitability of hippocampal slices (measured as amplitude of population spikes) was increased by both types of treatment (fetal 0.5 mT, newborn 3 mT). Neocortical slices seemed to be responsive mostly to the newborn treatment, the amplitude of excitatory postsynaptic potentials was increased. Fetal ELF-MF exposure significantly inhibited the paired-pulse depression (PPD) and there was a significant decrease in the efficacy of LTP (long-term potentiation induction) in neocortex, but not in hippocampus. On the other hand, neonatal treatment had no significant effect on plasticity phenomena. Results demonstrated that ELF-MF has significant effects on basic neuronal functions and synaptic plasticity in brain slice preparations originating from rats exposed either in fetal or in newborn period.

Keywords: ACSF; Brain functions; CNS; Developing CNS; E-S relationship; ELF-EF; ELF-EMF; ELF-MF; EPSP; EPSP-Spike relationship; Environmental health; Fetal exposure; I–O curve; LTP; Newborn exposure; PPD; PPF; Postnatal brain; VT; artificial cerebrospinal fluid; central nervous system; excitatory postsynaptic potential; extremely low frequency electric field; extremely low frequency electromagnetic field; extremely low frequency magnetic field; input–output curve; long-term potentiation; paired-pulse depression; paired-pulse facilitation; voltage threshold.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / radiation effects*
  • Hippocampus* / cytology
  • Hippocampus* / embryology
  • Hippocampus* / growth & development
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Magnetic Fields*
  • Male
  • Neocortex* / cytology
  • Neocortex* / embryology
  • Neocortex* / growth & development
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Synapses / radiation effects*