A Single Exposure to GSM-1800 MHz Signals in the Course of an Acute Neuroinflammatory Reaction can Alter Neuronal Responses and Microglial Morphology in the Rat Primary Auditory Cortex

Publication date: 10 August 2018
Source:Neuroscience, Volume 385
Author(s): Florian Occelli, Julie Lameth, Victor Adenis, Chloé Huetz, Philippe Lévêque, Thérèse M. Jay, Jean-Marc Edeline, Michel Mallat
During mobile phone conversations, the temporal lobe neural networks involved in processing auditory information are exposed to electromagnetic fields (EMF) such as pulse-modulated GSM-1800 MHz radiofrequencies that convey wireless communications. The effects of these EMF on the brain affected by a pathological condition remain little investigated. In this study, rats injected with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to induce neuroinflammation were exposed “head-only” to GSM-1800 MHz signals for two hours at a specific absorption rate (SAR) that reached an average value of 1.55 W/kg in the auditory cortex (ACx). Immunodetection of Iba1, a microglial marker, and electrophysiological recordings in the ACx three to six hours after global system for communication (GSM) exposure, or sham-exposure, showed that exposure to GSM-1800 MHz resulted in a growth of microglial processes and a reduction in spontaneous firing rate. More importantly, there was a significant reduction in evoked responses to artificial and natural stimuli and an increase in response duration. The response latency and the bandwidth of the frequency tuning were unchanged, but the GSM exposure led to a higher proportion of cortical sites exhibiting abnormally high acoustic thresholds. These modifications were not observed in rats exposed to GSM-1800 MHz without pretreatment with LPS. Together our data provide evidence that in neuroinflammatory conditions, acute exposure to GSM-1800 MHz can significantly affect microglia and neuronal activity underling auditory perception.