Melatonin Modulates NMDA-Receptor 2B/Calpain-1/ Caspase-12 Pathways in Rat Brain After Long Time Exposure to GSM Radiation

Turk Neurosurg. 2019;29(6):887-900. doi: 10.5137/1019-5149.JTN.26492-19.2.


Aim: To investigate the potential protective effects of melatonin on the chronic radiation emitted by third generation mobile phones on the brain.

Material and methods: A total of 24 male Wistar albino rats were divided into four equal groups. Throughout a 90-day experiment, no application was performed on the control group. The second group was exposed to 2100 MHz radiation for 30 minutes. Subcutaneous melatonin was injected into the third group. Subcutaneous melatonin injection was applied 40 minutes before radiation and then the fourth group was exposed to radiation for 30 minutes. At the end of the experiment, brain (cerebrum and cerebellum) tissues were taken from the subjects. Histochemical, immunohistochemical, ultrastructural and western blot analyses were applied. In addition to brain weight, Purkinje cells’ number, immunohistochemical H Score analyses and the results of the Western blot were examined statistically.

Results: With the application of radiation, neuronal edema, relatively-decreased numbers of neurons on hippocampal CA1 and CA3 regions, displacement of the Purkinje neurons and dark neurons findings were observed as a result of histochemical stainings. Radiation also activated the NMDA-receptor 2B/Calpain-1/Caspase-12 pathway, NMDA-receptor 2B and Calpain-1 with the findings being supported by western blot analyses. Pre-increased protein synthesis before apoptosis was identified by electron microscopy.

Conclusion: Mobile phone radiation caused certain (ultra) structural changes on the brain and activated the NMDA-receptor 2B/ Calpain-1/Caspase-12 pathway; in addition, melatonin was found to be effective, but insufficient in demonstrating the protective effects.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / radiation effects
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / radiation effects
  • Calpain / metabolism*
  • Calpain / radiation effects
  • Caspase 12 / metabolism*
  • Caspase 12 / radiation effects
  • Cell Phone
  • Electromagnetic Radiation*
  • Male
  • Melatonin / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / metabolism*
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / radiation effects
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / radiation effects


  • Antioxidants
  • NR2B NMDA receptor
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Calpain
  • Caspase 12
  • Melatonin