Background/aims: The effects of exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs) on the male reproductive system have raised public concern and studies have shown that exposure to RF-EMFs can induce DNA damage and autophagy. However, there are no related reports on the role of autophagy in DNA damage in spermatocytes, especially after exposure to RF-EMFs. The aim of the present study was to determine the mechanism and role of autophagy induced by RF-EMFs in spermatozoa cells.
Methods: Mouse spermatocyte-derived cells (GC-2) were exposed to RF-EMFs 4 W/kg for 24 h. The level of reactive oxygen species (ROS) was determined by ROS assay kit. Comet assay was utilized to detect DNA damage. Autophagy was detected by three indicators: LC3II/LC3I, autophagic vacuoles, and GFP-LC3 dots, which were measured by western blot, transmission electron microscopy, and transfection with GFP-LC3, respectively. The expression of the molecular signaling pathway AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK)/mTOR was determined by western blot.
Results: The results showed that RF-EMFs induced autophagy and DNA damage in GC-2 cells via ROS generation, and the autophagy signaling pathway AMPK/mTOR was activated by ROS generation. Furthermore, following inhibition of autophagy by knockdown of AMPKα, increased DNA damage was observed in GC-2 cells following RF-EMFs exposure, and overexpression of AMPKα promoted autophagy and attenuated DNA damage.
Conclusions: These findings demonstrated that the autophagy which was induced by RF-EMFs via the AMPK/mTOR signaling pathway could prevent DNA damage in spermatozoa cells.
Keywords: Autophagy; DNA damage; Melatonin; Oxidative stress; Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields.
© 2018 The Author(s). Published by S. Karger AG, Basel.