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

Pikov, Victor and Arakaki, Xianghong and Harrington, Michael G. and Fraser, Scott E. and Siegel, Peter H. (2010) Modulation of neuronal activity and plasma membrane properties with low-power millimeter waves in organotypic cortical slices. Journal of Neural Engineering, 7 (4). Art. No. 045003 . ISSN 1741-2560.

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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 µW 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 °C. Comparison of these results with previously published data on the effects of general bath heating of 10 °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.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription DOIArticle
Harrington, Michael G.0000-0002-7923-8032
Fraser, Scott E.0000-0002-5377-0223
Siegel, Peter H.0000-0002-2539-4646
Additional Information:© 2010 IOP Publishing Ltd. Received 25 December 2009. Accepted for publication 30 April 2010. Published 19 July 2010. The authors would like to acknowledge administrative and technical support from Professor David B Rutledge, California Institute of Technology, and financial support from the Huntington Medical Research Institutes and the Chief Scientist’s Office of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Helpful suggestions from the anonymous reviewers are also gratefully acknowledged.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Huntington Medical Research InstitutesUNSPECIFIED
JPL Chief Scientist's OfficeUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:4
Classification Code:PACS: 87.19.L; 87.50.S; 87.19.R; 87.16.D
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20100810-134656307
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Official Citation:Victor Pikov et al 2010 J. Neural Eng. 7 045003 doi: 10.1088/1741-2560/7/4/045003
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:19373
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:10 Aug 2010 21:07
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:19

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