Acute radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation exposure impairs neurogenesis and causes neuronal DNA damage in the young rat brain

Neurotoxicology. 2023 Jan:94:46-58. doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2022.11.001. Epub 2022 Nov 3.


A mobile phone is now a commonly used device for digital media and communication among all age groups. Young adolescents use it for longer durations, which exposes them to radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR). This exposure can lead to neuropsychiatric changes. The underlying cellular mechanism behind these changes requires detailed investigation. In the present study, we investigated the effect of RF-EMR emitted from mobile phones on young adolescent rat brains. Wistar rats (5 weeks, male) were exposed to RF-EMR signal (2115 MHz) at a head average specific absorption rate (SAR) of 1.51 W/kg continuously for 8 h. Higher level of lipid peroxidation, carbon-centered lipid radicals, and single-strand DNA damage was observed in the brain of rat exposed to RF-EMR. The number of BrdU-positive cells in the dentate gyrus (DG) decreased in RF-EMR-exposed rats, indicating reduced neurogenesis. RF-EMR exposure also induced degenerative changes and neuronal loss in DG neurons but had no effect on the CA3 and CA1 neurons of the hippocampus and cerebral cortex. The activity of Pro-caspase3 did not increase upon exposure in any of the brain regions, pointing out that degeneration observed in the DG region is not dependent on caspase activation. Results indicate that short-term acute exposure to RF-EMR induced the generation of carbon-centered lipid radicals and nuclear DNA damage, both of which likely played a role in the impaired neurogenesis and neuronal degeneration seen in the young brain's hippocampus region. The understanding of RF-EMR-induced alteration in the brain at the cellular level will help develop appropriate interventions for reducing its adverse impact.

Keywords: Cerebral cortex; Hippocampus; Neurogenesis; Oxidative stress; RF-EMR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / radiation effects
  • DNA Damage
  • Electromagnetic Fields* / adverse effects
  • Electromagnetic Radiation
  • Internet*
  • Lipids
  • Male
  • Neurons
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Lipids