Long-term exposure to 4G smartphone radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation diminished male reproductive potential by directly disrupting Spock3-MMP2-BTB axis in the testes of adult rats

Sci Total Environ. 2020 Jan 1;698:133860. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.133860. Epub 2019 Aug 31.

Abstract

The correlation between long-term exposure to SRF-EMR and the decline in male fertility is gradually receiving increasing attention from the medical society. While male reproductive organs are often exposed to SRF-EMR, little is currently known about the direct effects of long-term SRF-EMR exposure on the testes and its involvement in the suppression of male reproductive potential. The present study was designed to investigate this issue by using 4G SRF-EMR in rats. A unique exposure model using a 4G smartphone achieved localized exposure to the scrotum of the rats for 6 h each day (the smartphone was kept on active talk mode and received an external call for 1 min over 10 min intervals). Results showed that SRF-EMR exposure for 150 days decreased sperm quality and pup weight, accompanied by testicular injury. However, these adverse effects were not evident in rats exposed to SRF-EMR for 50 days or 100 days. Sequencing analysis and western blotting suggested Spock3 overexpression in the testes of rats exposed to SRF-EMR for 150 days. Inhibition of Spock3 overexpression improved sperm quality decline and alleviated testicular injury and BTB disorder in the exposed rats. Additionally, SRF-EMR exposure suppressed MMP2 activity, while increasing the activity of the MMP14-Spock3 complexes and decreasing MMP14-MMP2 complexes; these results were reversed by Spock3 inhibition. Thus, long-term exposure to 4G SRF-EMR diminished male fertility by directly disrupting the Spock3-MMP2-BTB axis in the testes of adult rats. To our knowledge, this is the first study to show direct toxicity of SRF-EMR on the testes emerging after long-term exposure.

Keywords: 4th generation mobile communication technology; Blood-testis barrier; Male reproductive potential; SPARC/osteonectin, cwcv and kazal like domains proteoglycan 3; Smartphone radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation; Testis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electromagnetic Radiation*
  • Male
  • Radio Waves
  • Rats
  • Reproduction
  • Smartphone*
  • Testis / radiation effects*