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90 fertilized eggs were divided into six groups (n=15 per group): 1.) control group, 2.) sham exposure, 3.) magnetic field exposure at 1.33 mT, 4.) magnetic field exposure at 2.66 mT, 5.) magnetic field exposure at 5.52 mT and 6.) magnetic field exposure at 7.32 mT. Eggs were exposed or sham exposed for 24 hours. Afterwards, they were incubated for 19 days in the same incubator. At the end of the incubation period, eggs were opened and embryos were analyzed.
In the exposed groups (2.66 mT, 5.52 mT, 7,23 mT), the mean length and width of the spleen was significantly decreased compared to the control group and the sham exposure group. While embryos from the control group and the sham exposure group appeared normal, in the exposure groups increased blood flow, damages in the spleen parenchyma, decreases in the number of splenic nodules, increases in the number of granulocytes and sinusoidal spaces of spleens were found.
Electron microscopy revealed deformed nuclei and swollen mitochondria in the exposure group in comparison to the control and the sham exposure group. The number of apoptotic cells was significantly increased in the exposure group compared to the control and the sham exposure. In all exposure groups, the enzyme activity of the alkaline phosphatase was significantly enhanced compared to the control and the sham exposure. Furthermore, the enzyme activity increased with higher magnetic flux densities.
The authors conclude that exposure to the extremely low frequency magnetic field could affect the normal development of the spleen in a chicken embryo.