Sustained whole-body exposure of anesthetized rats to 35-GHz radio frequency radiation produces localized hyperthermia and hypotension, leading to circulatory failure and death. The physiological mechanism underlying the induction of circulatory failure by 35-GHz microwave (MW) heating is currently unknown. We hypothesized that oxidative stress may play a role in the pathophysiology of MW-induced circulatory failure and examined this question by probing organs for 3-nitrotyrosine (3-NT), a marker of oxidative stress. Animals exposed to low durations of MW that increased colonic temperature but were insufficient to produce hypotension showed a 5- to 12-fold increase in 3-NT accumulation in lung, liver, and plasma proteins relative to the levels observed in control rats that were not exposed to MW. 3-NT accumulation in rats exposed to MW of sufficient duration to induce circulatory shock returned to low, baseline levels. Leukocytes obtained from peripheral blood showed significant accumulation of 3-NT only at exposure levels associated with circulatory shock. 3-NT was also found in the villus tips and vasculature of intestine and within the distal tubule of the kidney but not in the irradiated skin of rats with MW-induced circulatory failure. The relationship between accumulation in liver, lung, and plasma proteins and exposure duration suggests either that nitro adducts are formed in the first 20 min of exposure and are then cleared or that synthesis of nitro adducts decreases after the first 20 min of exposure. Taken together, these findings suggest that oxidative stress occurs in many organs during MW heating. Because nitration occurs after microwave exposures that are not associated with circulatory collapse, systemic oxidative stress, as evidenced by tissue accumulation of 3-NT, is not correlated with circulatory failure in this model of shock.
*Veridian Engineering, Inc. at Brooks AFB, Texas 78235, †Davis Hyperbaric Laboratory, San Antonio, Texas 78235; ‡Air Force Research Laboratory, Directed Energy Bioeffects Division, Brooks AFB, Texas 78235; §Department of Biology, Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas 78212; ∥University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, Texas 78284
Received 12 Apr 1999; first review completed 26 May 1999; accepted in final form 7 Jul 1999
Address reprint requests to John Kalns, Ph.D., USAFSAM/AFI, 2602 West Gate Rd., Brooks AFB, TX 78235.
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