Acute Neuroinflammation Promotes Cell Responses to 1800 MHz GSM Electromagnetic Fields in the Rat Cerebral Cortex

Neurotox Res. 2017 Oct;32(3):444-459. doi: 10.1007/s12640-017-9756-3. Epub 2017 Jun 3.


Mobile phone communications are conveyed by radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic fields, including pulse-modulated global system for mobile communications (GSM)-1800 MHz, whose effects on the CNS affected by pathological states remain to be specified. Here, we investigated whether a 2-h head-only exposure to GSM-1800 MHz could impact on a neuroinflammatory reaction triggered by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in 2-week-old or adult rats. We focused on the cerebral cortex in which the specific absorption rate (SAR) of RF averaged 2.9 W/kg. In developing rats, 24 h after GSM exposure, the levels of cortical interleukin-1ß (IL1ß) or NOX2 NADPH oxidase transcripts were reduced by 50 to 60%, in comparison with sham-exposed animals (SAR = 0), as assessed by RT-qPCR. Adult rats exposed to GSM also showed a 50% reduction in the level of IL1ß mRNA, but they differed from developing rats by the lack of NOX2 gene suppression and by displaying a significant growth response of microglial cell processes imaged in anti-Iba1-stained cortical sections. As neuroinflammation is often associated with changes in excitatory neurotransmission, we evaluated changes in expression and phosphorylation of α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptors in the adult cerebral cortex by Western blot analyses. We found that GSM exposure decreased phosphorylation at two residues on the GluA1 AMPAR subunit (serine 831 and 845). The GSM-induced changes in gene expressions, microglia, and GluA1 phosphorylation did not persist 72 h after RF exposure and were not observed in the absence of LPS pretreatment. Together, our data provide evidence that GSM-1800 MHz can modulate CNS cell responses triggered by an acute neuroinflammatory state.

Keywords: AMPA receptor; Electromagnetic fields; Lipopolysaccharide; Microglia; Mobile phone; Neuroinflammation; Radiofrequency.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Animals
  • Cell Phone
  • Cerebral Cortex / growth & development*
  • Cerebral Cortex / immunology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Interleukin-1beta / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Male
  • Microglia / immunology
  • Microglia / pathology
  • Microglia / radiation effects
  • NADPH Oxidase 2 / metabolism
  • Neuroimmunomodulation
  • Neurons / immunology*
  • Neurons / pathology
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, AMPA / metabolism


  • IL1B protein, rat
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Cybb protein, rat
  • NADPH Oxidase 2