Proteomic analysis of continuous 900-MHz radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure in testicular tissue: a rat model of human cell phone exposure

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2017 May;24(15):13666-13673. doi: 10.1007/s11356-017-8882-z. Epub 2017 Apr 10.


Although cell phones have been used worldwide, some adverse and toxic effects were reported for this communication technology apparatus. To analyze in vivo effects of exposure to radiofrequency-electromagnetic field (RF-EMF) on protein expression in rat testicular proteome, 20 Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to 900 MHz RF-EMF for 0, 1, 2, or 4 h/day for 30 consecutive days. Protein content of rat testes was separated by high-resolution two-dimensional electrophoresis using immobilized pH gradient (pI 4-7, 7 cm) and 12% acrylamide and identified by MALDI-TOF/TOF-MS. Two protein spots were found differentially overexpressed (P < 0.05) in intensity and volume with induction factors 1.7 times greater after RF-EMF exposure. After 4 h of daily exposure for 30 consecutive days, ATP synthase beta subunit (ASBS) and hypoxia up-regulated protein 1 precursor (HYOU1) were found to be significantly up-regulated. These proteins affect signaling pathways in rat testes and spermatogenesis and play a critical role in protein folding and secretion in the endoplasmic reticulum. Our results indicate that exposure to RF-EMF produces increases in testicular proteins in adults that are related to carcinogenic risk and reproductive damage. In light of the widespread practice of men carrying phones in their pockets near their gonads, where exposures can exceed as-tested guidelines, further study of these effects should be a high priority.

Keywords: Electromagnetic wave; Heat shock proteins; Proteome; Two-dimensional electrophoresis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Phone
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Proteomics*
  • Radio Waves
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Testis / metabolism
  • Testis / radiation effects*