Maternal exposure to a continuous 900-MHz electromagnetic field provokes neuronal loss and pathological changes in cerebellum of 32-day-old female rat offspring

J Chem Neuroanat. 2016 Sep;75(Pt B):105-10. doi: 10.1016/j.jchemneu.2015.09.002. Epub 2015 Sep 21.


Large numbers of people are unknowingly exposed to electromagnetic fields (EMF) from wireless devices. Evidence exists for altered cerebellar development in association with prenatal exposure to EMF. However, insufficient information is still available regarding the effects of exposure to 900 megahertz (MHz) EMF during the prenatal period on subsequent postnatal cerebellar development. This study was planned to investigate the 32-day-old female rat pup cerebellum following exposure to 900MHz EMF during the prenatal period using stereological and histopathological evaluation methods. Pregnant rats were divided into control, sham and EMF groups. Pregnant EMF group (PEMFG) rats were exposed to 900MHz EMF for 1h inside an EMF cage during days 13-21 of pregnancy. Pregnant sham group (PSG) rats were also placed inside the EMF cage during days 13-21 of pregnancy for 1h, but were not exposed to any EMF. No procedure was performed on the pregnant control group (PCG) rats. Newborn control group (CG) rats were obtained from the PCG mothers, newborn sham group (SG) rats from the PSG and newborn EMF group (EMFG) rats from the PEMFG rats. The cerebellums of the newborn female rats were extracted on postnatal day 32. The number of Purkinje cells was estimated stereologically, and histopathological evaluations were also performed on cerebellar sections. Total Purkinje cell numbers calculated using stereological analysis were significantly lower in EMFG compared to CG (p<0.05) and SG (p<0.05). Additionally, some pathological changes such as pyknotic neurons with dark cytoplasm were observed in EMFG sections under light microscopy. In conclusion, our study results show that prenatal exposure to EMF affects the development of Purkinje cells in the female rat cerebellum and that the consequences of this pathological effect persist after the postnatal period.

Keywords: Cerebellum; Electromagnetic field; Female rat; Purkinje cell; Stereology.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Cell Count / methods
  • Cerebellum / pathology*
  • Cerebellum / radiation effects*
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Neurons / radiation effects*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / etiology
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / pathology
  • Purkinje Cells / pathology
  • Purkinje Cells / radiation effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley