Maternal mobile phone exposure alters intrinsic electrophysiological properties of CA1 pyramidal neurons in rat offspring

Toxicol Ind Health. 2016 Jun;32(6):968-79. doi: 10.1177/0748233714525497. Epub 2014 Mar 6.


Some studies have shown that exposure to electromagnetic field (EMF) may result in structural damage to neurons. In this study, we have elucidated the alteration in the hippocampal function of offspring Wistar rats (n = 8 rats in each group) that were chronically exposed to mobile phones during their gestational period by applying behavioral, histological, and electrophysiological tests. Rats in the EMF group were exposed to 900 MHz pulsed-EMF irradiation for 6 h/day. Whole cell recordings in hippocampal pyramidal cells in the mobile phone groups did show a decrease in neuronal excitability. Mobile phone exposure was mostly associated with a decrease in the number of action potentials fired in spontaneous activity and in response to current injection in both male and female groups. There was an increase in the amplitude of the afterhyperpolarization (AHP) in mobile phone rats compared with the control. The results of the passive avoidance and Morris water maze assessment of learning and memory performance showed that phone exposure significantly altered learning acquisition and memory retention in male and female rats compared with the control rats. Light microscopy study of brain sections of the control and mobile phone-exposed rats showed normal morphology.Our results suggest that exposure to mobile phones adversely affects the cognitive performance of both female and male offspring rats using behavioral and electrophysiological techniques.

Keywords: Mobile phone exposure; neural excitability; offspring; pregnancy; pyramidal neurons; rat.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CA1 Region, Hippocampal / physiology
  • CA1 Region, Hippocampal / radiation effects*
  • Cell Phone*
  • Cognition / radiation effects
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena*
  • Female
  • Learning / radiation effects
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Memory / radiation effects
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Neurons / radiation effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar