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The effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation on sperm function.
Reproduction. 2016 Sep 6. pii: REP-16-0126. (Epub ahead of print)
Houston B 1, Nixon B 2, King BV 3, De Iuliis G 4, Aitken RJ 5.
1 B Houston, School of Environmental and Life Sciences, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, 2308, Australia firstname.lastname@example.org.
2 B Nixon, Biological Sciences, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, 2308, Australia.
3 B King, School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia.
4 G De Iuliis, Biological Sciences, University of Newcastle, NSW, CALLAGHAN, 2308, Australia.
5 R Aitken, School of Environmental and Life Sciences, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, 2308, Australia.
Mobile phone usage has become an integral part of our lives. However, the effects of the radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) emitted by these devices on biological systems and specifically the reproductive systems are currently under active debate. A fundamental hindrance to the current debate is that there is no clear mechanism of how such non-ionising radiation influences biological systems. Therefore, we explored the documented impacts of RF-EMR on the male reproductive system and considered any common observations that could provide insights on a potential mechanism.
Among a total of 27 studies investigating the effects of RF-EMR on the male reproductive system, negative consequences of exposure were reported in 21. Within these 21 studies, 11 of the 15 that investigated sperm motility reported significant declines, 7 of 7 that measured the production of reactive oxygen species documented elevated levels and 4 of 5 studies that probed for DNA damage highlighted increased damage, due to RF-EMR exposure. Associated with this, RF-EMR treatment reduced antioxidant levels in 6 of 6 studies that studied this phenomenon, while consequences of RF-EMR were successfully ameliorated with the supplementation of antioxidants in all 3 studies that carried out these experiments.
In light of this, we envisage a two-step mechanism whereby RF-EMR is able to induce mitochondrial dysfunction leading to elevated ROS production. A continued focus on research which aims to shed light on the biological effects of RF-EMR will allow us to test and assess this proposed mechanism in a variety of cell types.
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