The central nervous system (CNS) begins developing in the intrauterine period, a process that continues until adulthood. Contact with chemical substances, drugs or environmental agents such as electromagnetic field (EMF) during adolescence therefore has the potential to disturb the development of the morphological architecture of components of the CNS (such as the hippocampus). The hippocampus is essential to such diverse functions as memory acquisition and integration and spatial maneuvering. EMF can result in severe damage to both the morphology of the hippocampus and its principal functions during adolescence. Although children and adolescents undergo greater exposure to EMF than adults, the information currently available regarding the effects of exposure to EMF during this period is as yet insufficient. This study investigated the 60-day-old male rat hippocampus following exposure to 900 megahertz (MHz) EMF throughout the adolescent period using stereological, histopathological and biochemical analysis techniques. Eighteen male Sprague Dawley rats aged 21days were assigned into control, sham and EMF groups on a random basis. No procedure was performed on the control group rats. The EMF group (EMFGr) was exposed to a 900-MHz EMF for 1h daily from beginning to end of adolescence. The sham group rats were held in the EMF cage but were not exposed to EMF. All rats were sacrificed at 60days of age. Their brains were extracted and halved. The left hemispheres were set aside for biochemical analyses and the right hemispheres were subjected to stereological and histopathological evaluation. Histopathological examination revealed increased numbers of pyknotic neurons with black or dark blue cytoplasm on EMFGr slides stained with cresyl violet. Stereological analyses revealed fewer pyramidal neurons in EMFGr than in the other two groups. Biochemical analyses showed an increase in malondialdehyde and glutathione levels, but a decrease in catalase levels in EMFGr. Our results indicate that oxidative stress-related morphological damage and pyramidal neuron loss may be observed in the rat hippocampus following exposure to 900-MHz EMF throughout the adolescent period.
Keywords: Cell phone; Electromagnetic field; Hippocampus; Male rat; Stereology.
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