Poster Presentation The Annual Scientific Meeting of the Endocrine Society of Australia and the Society for Reproductive Biology 2014

Radiofrequency-electromagnetic radiation and the male germ line (#314)

Brendan Houston 1 , R J Aitken 1
  1. The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia

Male infertility is a concerning problem for couples trying to achieve pregnancy; accounting for half of all fertility problems, while one in every twenty men experiences infertility. In recent years it has been recognised that oxidative stress is a key mediator in the induction of DNA damage in spermatozoa leading to infertility. A consequence of this is highlighted through the peroxidation of sperm lipids by reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced in the mitochondria, resulting in the production of further ROS and ultimately oxidative DNA damage. While this self-perpetuating cascade has been relatively well studied in the terminal sperm cell, the susceptibility of developing germ cells within the testis to oxidative stress has not been as characterised. In particular, radiofrequency-electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) has also been recognised as an environmental factor contributing to defective spermiogenesis. Several studies have identified the impact of RF-EMR on sperm function and DNA integrity, mediated by an induction of oxidative stress. It is therefore important to determine the effects of RF-EMR on male germ cells as current studies present contradictory results. A GC2 spermatocyte derived cell line was used as a model to study the effect(s) of RF-EMR on the male germ line. RF-EMR exposure at a frequency of 1.8 GHz and specific absorption rates within the range emitted by mobile phones (0.15-1.5 W/kg) for a period of 4-6 hours resulted in a significant increase in mitochondrial ROS production compared to non-exposed cells (p<0.01). Furthemore, GC2 cells responded to the addition of lipid aldehydes acrolein, 4-hydroxy-nonenal and malondialdehyde (0-400 µM) with a dose-dependent increase in mitochondrial ROS formation and dose-dep­endent decrease in cell viability. These electrophilic aldehydes are known to be involved in the lipid peroxidation cascade of human spermatozoa and it is hypothesised that this cascade is mirrored in male germ cells exposed to RF-EMR.