Effects of exposure to low level radiofrequency fields on acetylcholine release in hippocampus of freely moving rats



Some central cholinergic effects have been reported in animals after acute exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic field at low intensity. We studied acetylcholine (ACh) release in the brain of freely moving rats exposed for 1 h during the day to a 2.45 GHz continuous wave radiofrequency field (RF) (2 or 4 mW/cm2) or exposed for 1 or 14 h during the night to a 800 MHz field modulated at 32 Hz (AM 200 mW/cm2). Measurements were performed by microdialysis using a membrane implanted through the upper CA1 region of the hippocampus. After irradiation with the 2.45 GHz RF, rats exposed at 2 mW/cm2 did not show a significant modification of Ach release, whereas those exposed at 4 mW/cm2 showed a significant 40% decrease in mean ACh release from hippocampus. This decrease was maximal at 5 h post exposure. Exposure to the 800 MHz RF for 1 h did not cause any significant effect, but exposure for 14 hrs induced a significant 43% decrease in ACh release during the period 11 p.m.–4 a.m. compared to control rats. In the control group we observed an increase of ACh release at the beginning of the night, which was linked to the waking period of rats. This normal increase was disturbed in rats exposed overnight to the 800 MHz RF. This work indicates that neurochemical modification of the hippocampal cholinergic system can be observed during and after an exposure to low intensity RF. Bioelectromagnetics 23:249–255, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.