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Complex chromosomal rearrangements induced in vivo by heavy ions

Durante M.a · Ando K.b · Furusawa Y.b · Obe G.c · George K.d · Cucinotta F.A.d
aDepartment of Physics, University Federico II, Naples (Italy); bHeavy-Ion Radiobiology Research Group, National Institute of Radiological Sciences, Chiba (Japan); cDepartment of Genetics, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen (Germany); dNASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX (USA) Cytogenet Genome Res 104:240–244 (2004) (DOI:10.1159/000077497)


It has been suggested that the ratio complex/simple exchanges can be used as a biomarker of exposure to high-LET radiation. We tested this hypothesis in vivo, by considering data from several studies that measured complex exchanges in peripheral blood from humans exposed to mixed fields of low- and high-LET radiation. In particular, we studied data from astronauts involved in long-term missions in low-Earth-orbit, and uterus cancer patients treated with accelerated carbon ions. Data from two studies of chromosomal aberrations in astronauts used blood samples obtained before and after space flight, and a third study used blood samples from patients before and after radiotherapy course. Similar methods were used in each study, where lymphocytes were stimulated to grow in vitro, and collected after incubation in either colcemid or calyculin A. Slides were painted with whole-chromosome DNA fluorescent probes (FISH), and complex and simple chromosome exchanges in the painted genome were classified separately. Complex-type exchanges were observed at low frequencies in control subjects, and in our test subjects before the treatment. No statistically significant increase in the yield of complex-type exchanges was induced by the space flight. Radiation therapy induced a high fraction of complex exchanges, but no significant differences could be detected between patients treated with accelerated carbon ions or X-rays. Complex chromosomal rearrangements do not represent a practical biomarker of radiation quality in our test subjects.   


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