Microwave (MW) and electromagnetic pulse (EMP) are considered environmental pollutants, both of which can induce learning and memory impairments. However, the bioeffects of combined exposure to MW and EMP have never been explored. This paper aimed to investigate the effects of combined exposure to MW and EMP on the learning and memory of rats as well as its association with ferroptosis in the hippocampus. In this study, rats were exposed to EMP, MW, or EMP and MW combined radiation. After exposure, impairment of learning and memory, alterations in brain electrophysiological activity, and damage to hippocampal neurons were observed in rats. Moreover, we also found alterations in ferroptosis hallmarks, including increased levels of iron, lipid peroxidation, and prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase 2 (PTGS2) mRNA, as well as downregulation of glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPX4) protein in the rat hippocampus after exposure. Our results suggested that either single or combined exposure to MW and EMP radiation could impair learning and memory and damage hippocampal neurons in rats. Moreover, the adverse effects caused by the combined exposure were more severe than the single exposures, which might be due to cumulative effects rather than synergistic effects. Furthermore, ferroptosis in the hippocampus might be a common underlying mechanism of learning and memory impairment induced by both single and combined MW and EMP exposure.
Combined exposure | Electromagnetic pulse | Ferroptosis | Hippocampus | Learning and memory impairment | Microwave
© 2023. The Author(s).