Background: Microwave (MW) radiation is being increasingly used as a source of heat supplementation during early postnatal development of pigs. Although MW radiation does not cause deleterious physiological effects, no specific information exists regarding its impact on immune cells such as macrophages. Pulmonary intravascular macrophages (PIMs) are emerging as important inflammatory cells due to their endocytic and secretory potential. An in vivo study was conducted to evaluate the effects of infrared, and low and high power MW radiation on the PIMs of pigs.
Methods: Pigs were exposed to infrared (IR), low MW (LMW; 6.1mW cm-2), and high MW (HMW; 11.4mW cm-2) radiation at 915 MHz (n = 2 for each treatment) for 24 hr. The controls (n = 2) were exposed to natural light for the same period of time. Lung tissues were processed for ultrastructural examination and acid phosphatase (AcPase) cytochemistry. In addition, rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER) as a fraction of cytosol of the PIMs was counted.
Results: Ultrastructural and numerical data suggested enhanced secretory activity in the PIMs of LMW-treated pigs as indicated by the increased RER:cytoplasm ratio, prominent Golgi complex profiles, and accumulation of secretory vesicles in conjunction with microtubules as compared with the control, IR, and HMW-exposed pigs. High MW treatment induced some damage to pulmonary interstitium as deduced from the presence of extracellular AcPase precipitates and disrupted collagen matrix. Intracellular globules were noticed in the PIMs of IR and LMW-treated pigs but not in the control and HMW-radiated animals.
Conclusions: Elaboration of structural signs of secretory activity in the PIMs by LMW radiation in the absence of pulmonary pathological changes indicates its potential for cell activation in addition to the already established role of LMW in heat supplementation. This activation could be due to either increased core body temperature or initiation of intracellular signaling by the LMW radiation. This study also shows that the HMW radiation is capable of inducing pathology in the form of changes in the pulmonary interstitial matrix and may not be a good source of supplementary heat.