Kumar S, Kumar Kesari K, Behari J. Influence of microwave exposure on fertility of male rats. Fertility and Sterility. Ahead of print. Jun 17, 2010.
Exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) may produce adverse effects on the human body, which may lead to changes in physiological functions. Most studies conducted have reported that microwave radiation can have adverse effects on reproductive patterns.
The objective of this study was to highlight the adverse affects of EMF on the human reproductive system by reviewing relevant studies related to infertility and studying the effects of EMF exposure on rats.
Male Wistar rats 70-days old were divided into a sham-exposed group and an experimental group. Animals were continuously exposed to 10 GHz of EMF radiation with a power density of 0.21 mW/cm2 and a specific absorption rate (SAR) of 0.014 W/kg for 2 hours per day for 45 days. Rats were sacrificed, spermatozoa were collected and levels of reactive oxygen species, histone kinase, apoptotic cells, and percentage of G2/M transition phase of cell cycle were measured.
Histone kinase activity in sperm decreased significantly (P<0.002) in the exposed group when compared with the sham-exposed group. Reactive oxygen species levels among the exposed group were significantly higher (P<0.01) than those of sham-exposed group. The study of the spermatozoa cell cycle demonstrated a significant increase (P<0.03) in apoptosis in the exposure group, however, no significant change was observed in the G0/G1 phase in the exposed group compared with the control group. The S phase was significantly higher (P<0.001) in the control group. In the exposed group, a statistically significant decrease (P<0.004) was also observed in the G2/M phase compared with the control group.
Interpretation and Limitations
Histone kinase activity is closely related to the G2/M transition during the cell cycle. EMF exposure decreases the activity of histone kinase and also decreases the G2/M phase of the cell cycle. This causes the overproduction of reactive oxygen species, causing a G2/M arrest. The authors suggest that such effects disrupt the cell cycle and as a consequence lead to male infertility. The main limitation of this study is the small sample size. Only 6 rats were used in each group. It is also difficult to extrapolate these results to humans.
This study suggests that exposure to EMF has significant effects on the reproductive pattern of male rats and that EMF radiation is a causative factor of male infertility.