Effects of exposure to 2100MHz GSM-like radiofrequency electromagnetic field on auditory system of rats

Braz J Otorhinolaryngol. Nov-Dec 2017;83(6):691-696. doi: 10.1016/j.bjorl.2016.10.004. Epub 2016 Nov 5.


Introduction: The use of mobile phones has become widespread in recent years. Although beneficial from the communication viewpoint, the electromagnetic fields generated by mobile phones may cause unwanted biological changes in the human body.

Objective: In this study, we aimed to evaluate the effects of 2100MHz Global System for Mobile communication (GSM-like) electromagnetic field, generated by an electromagnetic fields generator, on the auditory system of rats by using electrophysiological, histopathologic and immunohistochemical methods.

Methods: Fourteen adult Wistar albino rats were included in the study. The rats were divided randomly into two groups of seven rats each. The study group was exposed continuously for 30days to a 2100MHz electromagnetic fields with a signal level (power) of 5.4dBm (3.47mW) to simulate the talk mode on a mobile phone. The control group was not exposed to the aforementioned electromagnetic fields. After 30days, the Auditory Brainstem Responses of both groups were recorded and the rats were sacrificed. The cochlear nuclei were evaluated by histopathologic and immunohistochemical methods.

Results: The Auditory Brainstem Responses records of the two groups did not differ significantly. The histopathologic analysis showed increased degeneration signs in the study group (p=0.007). In addition, immunohistochemical analysis revealed increased apoptotic index in the study group compared to that in the control group (p=0.002).

Conclusion: The results support that long-term exposure to a GSM-like 2100MHz electromagnetic fields causes an increase in neuronal degeneration and apoptosis in the auditory system.

Keywords: Cochlear nuclei; Degeneração neuronal; Electromagnetic radiation; Neuronal degeneration; Núcleo coclear; Radiação eletromagnética.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / radiation effects
  • Cell Phone*
  • Cochlear Nucleus / pathology
  • Cochlear Nucleus / radiation effects*
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory, Brain Stem / radiation effects
  • Hearing / radiation effects*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Nerve Degeneration / etiology
  • Radiation Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Radio Waves / adverse effects*
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reference Values
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors