Numerous studies have shown that radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) may negatively affect human health. We detected the effect of 3500 MHz RF-EMR on anxiety-like behavior and the auditory cortex (ACx) in guinea pigs. Forty male guinea pigs were randomly divided into four groups and exposed to a continuous wave of 3500 MHz RF-EMF at an average specific absorption rate (SAR) of 0, 2, 4, or 10 W/kg for 72 h. After exposure, malondialdehyde (MDA) levels, antioxidant enzyme activity, anxiety-like behavior, hearing thresholds, cell ultrastructure, and apoptosis were detected. Our results revealed that hearing thresholds and basic indexes of animal behavior did not change significantly after exposure (P > 0.05). However, the MDA levels of ACx were increased (P < 0.05), and catalase (CAT), superoxide dismutase (SOD), and glutathione peroxidase (GSH-px) activities were decreased (P < 0.05) in the exposure groups compared to the sham group. Ultrastructural changes of ACx, including swollen mitochondria and layered myelin sheaths, were observed. Cytochrome-c relocalization, caspase-9, and cleaved caspase-3 activation were detected in the exposure groups. In conclusion, these results suggest that oxidative stress is an important mechanism underlying the biological effects of RF-EMR, which can induce ultrastructural damage to the ACx and cell apoptosis through a mitochondria-dependent mechanism. Moreover, oxidative stress, apoptosis induction and ultrastructural damage increase in a SAR-dependent manner. However, RF-EMR does not increase hearing thresholds or induce anxiety. Bioelectromagnetics. 43:106-118, 2022. © 2021 Bioelectromagnetics Society.
Keywords: anxiety-like behavior; apoptosis; auditory cortex; oxidative stress; radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation.
© 2021 Bioelectromagnetics Society.