The dose-dependent effect of 1.5-GHz microwave exposure on spatial memory and the NMDAR pathway in Wistar rats

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2023 Mar;30(13):37427-37439. doi: 10.1007/s11356-022-24850-4. Epub 2022 Dec 27.


A certain power of microwave radiation could cause changes in the nervous, cardiovascular, and other systems of the body, and the brain was a sensitive target organ of microwave radiation injury. Studies have shown that microwaves can impair cognitive functions in humans and animals, such as learning and memory, attention, and orientation. The dose-dependent effect of microwave radiation is still unclear. Our study aimed to investigate the effects of 1.5-GHz microwaves with different average power densities on locative learning and memory abilities, hippocampal structure, and related N-methyl D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) signalling pathway proteins in rats. A total number of 140 male Wistar rats were randomly divided into four groups: S group (sham exposure), L5 group (1.5-GHz microwaves with average power density = 5 mW/cm2), L30 group (1.5-GHz microwaves with average power density = 30 mW/cm2), and L50 group (1.5-GHz microwaves with average power density = 50 mW/cm2). Changes in spatial learning and memory, EEG activity, hippocampal structure, and NMDAR signalling pathway molecules were detected from 6 h to 28 d after microwave exposure. After exposure to 1.5-GHz microwaves, rats in the L30 and L50 groups showed impaired spatial memory, inhibited EEG activity, pyknosis and hyperchromatism of neuron nucleus, and changes in NMDAR subunits and downstream signalling molecules. In conclusion, 1.5-GHz microwaves with an average power density of 5, 30, and 50 mW/cm2 could induce spatial memory dysfunction, hippocampal structure changes, and changes in protein levels in rats, and there was a defined dose-dependent effect.

Keywords: Cognitive functions; Dose-dependent effect; Hippocampus; Histopathology; Microwave; NMDAR; Spatial memory.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders
  • Microwaves*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / metabolism
  • Spatial Memory*


  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate