Over the past decade people have been constantly exposed to microwave radiation mainly from wireless communication devices used in day to day life. Therefore, the concerns over potential adverse effects of microwave radiation on human health are increasing. Until now no study has been proposed to investigate the underlying causes of genotoxic effects induced by low intensity microwave exposure. Thus, the present study was undertaken to determine the influence of low intensity microwave radiation on oxidative stress, inflammatory response and DNA damage in rat brain. The study was carried out on 24 male Fischer 344 rats, randomly divided into four groups (n = 6 in each group): group I consisted of sham exposed (control) rats, group II–IV consisted of rats exposed to microwave radiation at frequencies 900, 1800 and 2450 MHz, specific absorption rates (SARs) 0.59, 0.58 and 0.66 mW/kg, respectively in gigahertz transverse electromagnetic (GTEM) cell for 60 days (2 h/day, 5 days/week). Rats were sacrificed and decapitated to isolate hippocampus at the end of the exposure duration.
Low intensity microwave exposure resulted in a frequency dependent significant increase in oxidative stress markers viz. malondialdehyde (MDA), protein carbonyl (PCO) and catalase (CAT) in microwave exposed groups in comparison to sham exposed group (p < 0.05). Whereas, levels of reduced glutathione (GSH) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) were found significantly decreased in microwave exposed groups (p < 0.05). A significant increase in levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-2, IL-6, TNF-α, and IFN-γ) was observed in microwave exposed animal (p < 0.05). Furthermore, significant DNA damage was also observed in microwave exposed groups as compared to their corresponding values in sham exposed group (p < 0.05). In conclusion, the present study suggests that low intensity microwave radiation induces oxidative stress, inflammatory response and DNA damage in brain by exerting a frequency dependent effect. The study also indicates that increased oxidative stress and inflammatory response might be the factors involved in DNA damage following low intensity microwave exposure.