Role of Mitochondria in the Oxidative Stress Induced by Electromagnetic Fields: Focus on Reproductive Systems

Modern technologies relying on wireless communication systems have brought increasing levels of electromagnetic field (EMF)exposure. This increased research interest in the effects of these radiations on human health. There is compelling evidence thatEMFs affect cell physiology by altering redox-related processes. Considering the importance of redox milieu in the biologicalcompetence of oocyte and sperm, we reviewed the existing literature regarding the effects of EMFs on reproductive systems.Given the role of mitochondria as the main source of reactive oxygen species (ROS), we focused on the hypothesis of amitochondrial basis of EMF-induced reproductive toxicity. MEDLINE, Web of Science, and Scopus database were examined forpeer-reviewed original articles by searching for the following keywords: “extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF EMFs),” “radiofrequency (RF),” “microwaves,” “Wi-Fi,” “mobile phone,” “oxidative stress,” “mitochondria,” “fertility,” “sperm,”“testis,” “oocyte,” “ovarian follicle,” and “embryo.” These keywords were combined with other search phrases relevant to the topic. Although we reported contradictory data due to lack of uniformity in the experimental designs, a growing body of evidence suggests that EMF exposure during spermatogenesis induces increased ROS production associated with decreased ROS scavenging activity. Numerous studies revealed the detrimental effects of EMFs from mobile phones, laptops, and other electric devices on sperm quality and provide evidence for extensive electron leakage from the mitochondrial electron transport chain as the main cause of EMF damage. In female reproductive systems, the contribution of oxidative stress to EMF-induced damages and the evidence of mitochondrial origin of ROS overproduction are reported, as well. In conclusion, mitochondria seem to play an important role as source of ROS in both male and female reproductive systems under EMF exposure. Future and more standardized studies are required for a better understanding of molecular mechanisms underlying EMF potential challenge to our reproductive system in order to improve preventive strategies.

Categories: Fertility, Medical clinic