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Keywords:

  • mobile phone;
  • rabbit;
  • radio frequency;
  • sperm;
  • testis

Summary

The accumulating effects of exposure to electromagnetic radiation emitted by a conventional mobile phone (standby position) on the testicular function and structure are not yet fully investigated. To study these effects longitudinally, a total of 24 adult male rabbits were randomly and equally divided into three groups. Rabbits in the first (phone) group were exposed, in specially designed cages, to radio frequency emitted from the mobile phone (800 MHz) in a standby position opposite to that of testes for 8 h daily for 12 weeks. The second group consisted of the stress controls which were kept in the same kind of cages to appreciate any cage-induced anxiety. The third group included the ordinary controls which were kept in the conventional roomy cages. Semen analysis and sperm function tests (viability, hypo-osmotic swelling and acridine orange) were conducted weekly. Histological testicular sections and serum total testosterone were also evaluated. A drop in the sperm concentration appeared in the phone group at week 6. This became statistically significant at week 8, compared with the two control (stress and ordinary) groups (133, 339 and 356 × 106/mL, respectively) and to the initial sperm count (341 × 106/mL) of this group. Motile sperm population showed similarity amongst the three study groups until week 10 when it declined significantly, and thereafter in the phone and stress control groups, with more significant decline in the phone animals (50, 61 and 72.4%, respectively). Histological examination showed also a significant decrease in the diameter of seminiferous tubules in the phone group vs. the stress and ordinary controls (191 μm vs. 206 and 226 μm, respectively). The other study points did not show any difference. In conclusion, low intensity pulsed radio frequency emitted by a conventional mobile phone kept in the standby position could affect the testicular function and structure in the adult rabbit.