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J Neural Eng. 2010 Aug;7(4):045003. doi: 10.1088/1741-2560/7/4/045003. Epub 2010 Jul 19.

Modulation of neuronal activity and plasma membrane properties with low-power millimeter waves in organotypic cortical slices.

Author information

1
Neural Engineering Program, Huntington Medial Research Institutes, Pasadena, CA, USA. pikov@hotmail.com

Abstract

As millimeter waves (MMWs) are being increasingly used in communications and military applications, their potential effects on biological tissue has become an important issue for scientific inquiry. Specifically, several MMW effects on the whole-nerve activity were reported, but the underlying neuronal changes remain unexplored. This study used slices of cortical tissue to evaluate the MMW effects on individual pyramidal neurons under conditions mimicking their in vivo environment. The applied levels of MMW power are three orders of magnitude below the existing safe limit for human exposure of 1 mW cm(-2). Surprisingly, even at these low power levels, MMWs were able to produce considerable changes in neuronal firing rate and plasma membrane properties. At the power density approaching 1 microW cm(-2), 1 min of MMW exposure reduced the firing rate to one third of the pre-exposure level in four out of eight examined neurons. The width of the action potentials was narrowed by MMW exposure to 17% of the baseline value and the membrane input resistance decreased to 54% of the baseline value across all neurons. These effects were short lasting (2 min or less) and were accompanied by MMW-induced heating of the bath solution at 3 degrees C. Comparison of these results with previously published data on the effects of general bath heating of 10 degrees C indicated that MMW-induced effects cannot be fully attributed to heating and may involve specific MMW absorption by the tissue. Blocking of the intracellular Ca(2+)-mediated signaling did not significantly alter the MMW-induced neuronal responses suggesting that MMWs interacted directly with the neuronal plasma membrane. The presented results constitute the first demonstration of direct real-time monitoring of the impact of MMWs on nervous tissue at a microscopic scale. Implication of these findings for the therapeutic modulation of neuronal excitability is discussed.

PMID:
20644247
DOI:
10.1088/1741-2560/7/4/045003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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