Greek Researchers Show Crucial Regions of the Brain Related to Learning, Memory, Alzheimer’s Impacted by Whole Body EMF Exposure in Animals

A Greek scientific study led by Adamantia Fragopoulou and Lukas Margaritis has demonstrated important protein changes in the brain of animals following whole body exposure to RF electromagnetic fields, similar to the kind of microwave radiation emitted from cell phones, portable phones, WiFi and wireless computer equipment. The study, Brain proteome response following whole body exposure of mice to mobile phone or wireless DECT base radiation”, was published in Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine, Early Online: 1–25, 2012 (See Abstract, below).

Important regions of the brain necessary for learning, memory and other functions of the mammalian brain were impacted by the microwave radiation, including the hippocampus, cerebellum and frontal lobe, at exposures below the ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection) safety guidelines.  A total of 143 proteins in the brain were impacted by the RF radiation over a period of 8 months, providing new evidence for a potential relationship between everyday cell phone use, wireless transmitters and wireless computer equipment and electrosensitivity symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness and sleep disorders, as well as with tumors, Alzheimer’s and even metabolic effects.

The study simulated 3 hours of cell phone exposure over eight months, 8 hours of DECT portable phone exposure over eight months, and included a sham exposure control group. The results showed both down regulation and up regulation of the proteins.

Several neural function related proteins (i.e. Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein (GFAP), Alpha-synuclein, Glia Maturation Factor beta (GMF), and apolipoprotein E (apoE)), heat shock proteins, and cytoskeletal proteins (i.e. neurofilaments and tropomodulin), were shown to be impacted by the radiation, as well as proteins of the brain metabolism (i.e. Aspartate aminotransferase, Glutamate dehydrogenase), in nearly all of the brain regions studied.

Figure 2 from the study shows the 143 proteins that have changed (up- or down-regulated) and their functional relationship based on a literature survey.


Adamantia F. Fragopoulou, M.Sc., PhD Candidate, in the Dept of Cell Biology and Biophysics at University of Athens, Greece, lead author of the study, says,

“Our study is important because it shows for the first time protein changes in the mouse brain after EMF exposure and in particular in very crucial regions like hippocampus, cerebellum and frontal lobe, all involved in learning, memory and other complicated functions of the mammalian brain. We have demonstrated that 143 proteins are altered after electromagnetic radiation, including proteins that have been correlated so far with Alzheimer’s, glioblastoma, stress and metabolism. In its perspective, this study is anticipated to throw light in the understanding of such health effects like headaches, dizziness, sleep disorders, memory disorders, brain tumors, all of them related, to the function of the altered brain proteins.

“Until now there is limited evidence relating EMFs with the impact on specific brain proteins. Further analysis of the affected proteins as well as replicating the experiment under similar conditions (data presently under analysis) is expected to offer new insights explaining the overall effects.”

Lukas H. Margaritis, PhD, Professor Emeritus (as of Sept 2010) of Cell Biology and Radiobiology, Dept of Cell Biology and Biophysics, University of Athens, head of the Athens research group, says,

“A high throughput approach (mass characterization of biomolecules, similar to microarrays that analyze the total genes of an organism) as that of the Proteomics* has never been used so far in EMF research of BRAIN TISSUES following whole body exposure of model animals (mice) at SAR values below ICNIRP’s recommendations. It is also the first time that wireless DECT phones base radiation is involved in lab animal studies and specifically in such molecular effects. The message taken out of this work is that people should be very cautious when using mobile phones next to their body (especially next to their brain), whereas the wireless DECT should be located as far away as possible from places that people use to spend many hours a day, not to mention children of all ages.”

* Proteomics is the study of the structure and function of proteins. Proteins are the primary components of the physiological metabolic pathways of all cells. They influence the functioning of all bodily systems, such as the immune system, endocrine system, neurological system (including cognitive function), respiratory system, etc. Malfunction in protein integrity has been linked to hereditary diseases, nervous system disorders, diabetes, to name just a few cases. Proteins are responsible for energy production and information transfer, in fact modern CELL BIOLOGY considers that there is no single cellular function that is not mediated by proteins.

The study by Fragopoulou et al. suggests immediate follow up on these findings are warranted, as changes in molecular effects in the brain can raise questions about what the effects would be on the brain after much longer durations of exposure to RF radiation, as is common today from frequent cell phone use and wireless exposures, as well as the effect of cumulative exposures on the brain and mental functioning; immune system defects; fatigue; chronic sleep disorders; and effects on fetuses and sperm quality. The research extends our understanding from the Volkow et al. study (JAMA. 2011;305(8):808-813. doi: 10.1001/jama.2011.186), which demonstrated impacts of cell phone radiation exposure on brain glucose metabolism, without understanding the mechanisms of action. The Fragopoulou et al. study presents a plausible theory why glucose metabolism in the brain may become altered, possibly through an oxidative stress effect.

Special Concern for Children

Regarding the implications of the Greek findings for the learning capability of children in formative years, the authors say,

“The evidence for disregulation of proteins in the brain from whole body exposure to RF/MW radiation, such as the radiation emitted by cell phones, portable phones, wireless devices or ambient RF/MW from cell towers, whether proteins are upregulated or downregulated, is of great concern for its impact on children’s capacity to learn. “

When considered together with other studies published by the University of Athens team (Fragopoulou et al., 2010, on spatial memory disorder, and Ntzouni et al., 2011 on recognition memory disorders, the authors say, “This proteome study implies that mobile phone radiation exposure at a normal intensity (and even below ICNIRP’s guidelines) is capable of detuning learning/memory functions and possibly other brain functions important in person-to-person communication and understanding. The impacts on society are unpredictable as EMFs are not a drug that is delivered to specific body parts or functions. EMFs can attack through oxidative stress every single cell that receives enough energy at non-thermal levels. The potential consequences for learning, memory and interpersonal relations, at the very least, need society’s immediate attention, given the widespread exposure to microwave radiation across the globe.”

People exposed to microwave radiation from cell phones, wireless networks and citywide Wi-Fi have long complained of cognitive difficulties ranging from attention problems, difficulty focusing, poor memory, visual and hearing disruptions, headaches, dizziness, depression and foggy thinking. The Fragopoulou et al. study deepens scientists’ understanding of the mechanisms of action of microwave radiation’s effect on the brain, and on mental functioning, due to changes in proteins and in protein functioning .

Dr. Martin Blank, Associate Professor, Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, Columbia University, and Past President of the Bioelectromagnetics Society, says,

“The paper by Goodman and Henderson (1987) showed that short-term  (minutes) exposure to EMF will stimulate protein synthesis, and  Fragopoulou et al. now show that this can lead to important changes in brain composition and function.  Such changes may account for symptoms  like insomnia, nervousness, fatigue, headaches, etc. that people  report after exposure to cell phones and other wireless technologies.  The biological verdict became obvious when Goodman and Blank (1994)  showed that cells react to EMF as potentially harmful by activating the cellular stress response.  There is no question that we should limit our exposure to EMF to help protect our brains and all cells in the body.”

Studies Showing RF Effects Below Safety Guidelines

A growing body of research clearly shows health effects from microwave radiation at non-thermal levels of exposure, and effects at exposures far lower than international safety guidelines. One review of the literature, by Carlos Sosa, MD of Columbia, South America, found biological effects from non-thermal levels of EMF exposure at exposure levels well below international safety guidelines in several respects:


The UK charity MobileWise recently published “Mobile phone health risks: the case for action to protect children” in November 2011, summarizing and listing more than 200 peer-reviewed studies from a range of international research institutions linking mobile phones at non-thermal exposures to serious biological and health consequences.

A Russian team of researchers also has recently released a study published in Radiation Biology, Radiation Ecology 2011. Volume 51, No.5, p 611-623 showing significant long-term (4 years) cognitive decline in children (ages 7-12) in users of mobile devices compared to controls, once again demonstrating exposure guidelines are inadequate. Lead author of the study, Professor Yury Grigoriev, Chairman of Russian National Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection and a member of the WHO’s International Advisory Committee on “EMF and Health”, says,

“Our recent 4-year monitoring of effects from cell phone radiation on children, published in Radiation Biology. Radiation Ecology (Volume 51, No.5, 2011), demonstrates an increase in phonemic perception disorders, abatement of efficiency, reduced indicators for the arbitrary and semantic memory and increased fatigue. Over the four-year monitoring of 196 children ages 7-12 who were users of mobile communication devices, a steady decline in these parameters from high values to bottom standards compared to controls, was observed. The short-term and long-term potential consequences for society from exposing children to microwave radiation from cellular communication devices must be immediately acknowledged, globally, and responsibly addressed.

A history of exposure standard setting in the telecommunications industry, The Procrustean Approach , by Don Maisch, PhD of EMF Facts in Australia, describes ‘the manipulation of telecommunications standards by political, military, and industrial vested interests at the expense of public health protection.’

The Seletun Scientific Statement, a statement by international scientists in February 2011 (watch video), called for reduction EMF exposures globally to reflect the known biological effects at radiation exposures far lower than international guidelines in order to protect the public health and the health of future generations.

The recent Fragopoulou et al. research adds to the body of science demonstrating we are changing and disregulating biological functioning in the brain with the unchecked proliferation of RF electromagnetic fields from telecommunication and utility technologies. These effects are occurring at exposures below safety guidelines and the safety guidelines urgently need to be changed to protect public health.





Athens, Greece. January 21, 2012. The research group of Professor Lukas Margaritis (Faculty of Biology, University of Athens and the Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens), within the framework of the activities seeking for the truth underlining the possible effects of daily life electromagnetic fields, has performed this study as part of the Doctorate Dissertation of Adamantia F. Fragopoulou.

Using ordinary working conditions of mobile phone and wireless DECT base and by applying state of the art proteome science approaches, they demonstrated that a large number of major brain proteins have been changed. Namely proteins that are responsible for the integrity of brain functions, in such critical regions like hippocampus, cerebellum and frontal lobe are below normal levels whereas an equally large number are found well above physiological levels. These “underexpressed” or “overexpressed” proteins may play a role in the short term or long term effects reported as a consequence of mobile phone exposure, including memory deficits, headaches, sleep disorders, brain tumors.

As pointed out in the “DISCUSSION” section of the paper, the possible start-up events may involve the production of ROS (reactive oxygen species) leading to oxidative damage (as suggested recently by Blank and Goodman of Columbia University in New York City); heat shock protein activation; and finally, changing the expression of a large number of brain proteins, as was demonstrated in this study.

The Fragopoulou et al. study is the first large-scale analysis of the mouse brain proteome to be published so far. The research team having recently been awarded a large “Thalis” grant is potentially aiming in elucidating the EMF effects from the molecular level up to the organism level, exploiting the most suitable model systems (mice, insects, nematodes, lizards, cell cultures, human skin).

Published in Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine, Early Online: 1–25, 2012 Copyright Q Informa Healthcare USA, Inc.


Brain proteome response following whole body exposure of mice to mobile phone or wireless DECT base radiation
Adamantia F. Fragopoulou1, Athina Samara2, Marianna H. Antonelou1, Anta Xanthopoulou3, Aggeliki Papadopoulou3, Konstantinos Vougas3, Eugenia Koutsogiannopoulou2, Ema Anastasiadou2, Dimitrios J. Stravopodis1, George Th. Tsangaris3 & Lukas H. Margaritis1
1Department of Cell Biology and Biophysics, Athens University, Athens, Greece, 2Genetics and Gene Therapy Division, Center of Basic Research II, Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens, Athens, Greece, and 3Proteomics Research Unit, Center of Basic Research II, Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens, Athens, Greece

The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of two sources of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) on the proteome of cerebellum, hippocampus, and frontal lobe in Balb/c mice following long-term whole body irradiation. Three equally divided groups of animals (6 animals/group) were used; the first group was exposed to a typical mobile phone, at a SAR level range of 0.17– 0.37 W/kg for 3 h daily for 8 months, the second group was exposed to a wireless DECT base (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications/Telephone) at a SAR level range of 0.012– 0.028 W/kg for 8 h/day also for 8 months and the third group comprised the sham-exposed animals. Comparative proteomics analysis revealed that long-term irradiation from both EMF sources altered significantly (p , 0.05) the expression of 143 proteins in total (as low as 0.003 fold downregulation up to 114 fold overexpression). Several neural function related proteins (i.e., Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein (GFAP), Alpha-synuclein, Glia Maturation Factor beta (GMF), and apolipoprotein E (apoE)), heat shock proteins, and cytoskeletal proteins (i.e., Neurofilaments and tropomodulin) are included in this list as well as proteins of the brain metabolism (i.e., Aspartate aminotransferase, Glutamate dehydrogenase) to nearly all brain regions studied. Western blot analysis on selected proteins confirmed the proteomics data. The observed protein expression changes may be related to brain plasticity alterations, indicative of oxidative stress in the nervous system or involved in apoptosis and might potentially explain human health hazards reported so far, such as headaches, sleep disturbance, fatigue, memory deficits, and brain tumor long-term induction under similar exposure conditions..

Media may request a copy of the study from Adamantia Fragopoulou, Lukas Margaritis, Corresponding Authors, at [email protected], [email protected]

Electromagnetic Biology Lab
Dept of Cell Biology and Biophysics
University of Athens

http://kyttariki.biol.uoa.gr/EMR_GROUP_GR.htm (greek version)

http://kyttariki.biol.uoa.gr/emr_group.htm (english version)

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