Concern has arisen over human exposures to radio frequency electromagnetic radiation (RFEMR), including a recent report indicating that regular mobile phone use can negatively impact upon human semen quality. These effects would be particularly serious if the biological effects of RFEMR included the induction of DNA damage in male germ cells. In this study, mice were exposed to 900 MHz RFEMR at a specific absorption rate of approximately 90 mW/kg inside a waveguide for 7 days at 12 h per day. Following exposure, DNA damage to caudal epididymal spermatozoa was assessed by quantitative PCR (QPCR) as well as alkaline and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. The treated mice were overtly normal and all assessment criteria, including sperm number, morphology and vitality were not significantly affected. Gel electrophoresis revealed no gross evidence of increased single- or double-DNA strand breakage in spermatozoa taken from treated animals. However, a detailed analysis of DNA integrity using QPCR revealed statistically significant damage to both the mitochondrial genome (ρ < 0.05) and the nuclear β-globin locus (ρ < 0.01). This study suggests that while RFEMR does not have a dramatic impact on male germ cell development, a significant genotoxic effect on epididymal spermatozoa is evident and deserves further investigation.
International Journal of Andrology Vol. 28, Issue 3, p. 171-179