Pregnant mice were exposed to 2.45 GHz of microwave radiation for 15 or 20 min on day 13 of gestation. The highest maternal core temperature during the exposure did not exceed 42.5°C. Pregnant females also were immersed in hot water at 42°C for 15 min to compare thermal effects on brain development. Animals were killed 9 hours after treatment, and the pyknotic cells in the ventricular zone of telencephalon were counted. The respective incidences of these cells in the groups exposed to microwaves for 15 and 20 min were 1.83% and 3.06%. Microwave radiation for 20 min had an effect that was comparable to that of immersion in 42°C hot water for 15 min. In addition, some animals were examined on day 18 of gestation, and some of their offspring were examined at 6 weeks of age in an examination of long-term effects. Brain weight for the group exposed to microwaves for 20 min was significantly lower than for the control group, and the numerical density of the neurons in the cerebrum was higher. We concluded that microwave radiation at the dose tested mainly has a thermal effect.
Methionine-enkephalin (ME) contents in the hypothalamus and other rat brain structures were measured immediately after 10 or 20 cGy whole-body X-irradiation. The ME contents of homogenates of the striatum, hypothalamus, midbrain + thalamus, hindbrain and pituitary were assayed radioimmunologically with 125I. The contents of all the structures, except the pituitary, decreased significantly after 20 cGy irradiation. The reduction in the hypothalamus was transient, ME content gradually recovering with time. These results suggest that the central nervous system of mammals is one of the most radiosensitive organs as judged by changes in stress-induced mediators such as ME.