The genomic effects of cell phone exposure on the reproductive system

Ahmad Yahyazadeha, Ömür Gülsüm Deniza, Arife Ahsen Kaplana, Gamze Altuna, Kıymet Kübra Yurta, Devra Davis

Electromagnetic fields (EMF) causes an imbalance between pro-oxidant and antioxidant mechanisms. EMF increases reactive oxygen species production.
Exposure to EMF leads to disruptions in spermatogenic cells.
Exposure to GSM-modulated EMF causes an increase in superoxide formation levels in human spermatozoa.

Humans are exposed to increasing levels of electromagnetic fields (EMF) at various frequencies as technology advances. In this context, improving understanding of the biological effects of EMF remains an important, high priority issue. Although a number of studies in this issue and elsewhere have focused on the mechanisms of the oxidative stress caused by EMF, the precise understanding of the processes involved remains to be elucidated. Due to unclear results among the studies, the issue of EMF exposure in the literature should be evaluated at the genomic level on the reproductive system. Based on this requirement, a detail review of recently published studies is necessary. The main objectives of this study are to show differences between negative and positive effect of EMF on the reproductive system of animal and human. Extensive review of literature has been made based on well known data bases like Web of Science, PubMed, MEDLINE, Google Scholar, Science Direct, Scopus. This paper reviews the current literature and is intended to contribute to a better understanding of the genotoxic effects of EMF emitted from mobile phones and wireless systems on the human reproductive system, especially on fertility. The current literature reveals that mobile phones can affect cellular functions via non-thermal effects. Although the cellular targets of global system for mobile communications (GSM)-modulated EMF are associated with the cell membrane, the subject is still controversial. Studies regarding the genotoxic effects of EMF have generally focused on DNA damage. Possible mechanisms are related to ROS formation due to oxidative stress. EMF increases ROS production by enhancing the activity of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) oxidase in the cell membrane. Further detailed studies are needed to elucidate DNA damage mechanisms and apoptotic pathways during oogenesis and spermatogenesis in germ cells exposed to EMF.

  • EMF, electromagnetic field;
  • NADH, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide;
  • ROS, reactive oxygen species;
  • 8-OHdG, 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine;
  • RNS, reactive nitrogen species;
  • TNF, tumour necrosis factor;
  • PKC, protein kinase C;
  • DR, death receptor;
  • TNFR, TNF receptor;
  • TRAIL, TNF-related apoptosis inducing ligand;
  • Apaf-1, apoptosis protease activating factor-1;
  • MAP, mitogen-activated protein, Fas fatty acid synthase;
  • 4HNE, 4-hydroxynoneNal;
  • ETC, electron transport chain;
  • GSM, global system for mobile communications;
  • SAR, specific absorption rate


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