Long-lived, sensitive, and specific biomarkers of particular mutagenic agents are much sought after and potentially have broad applications in the fields of cancer biology, epidemiology, and prevention. Many clastogens induce a spectrum of chromosome aberrations, and some of them can be exploited as biomarkers of exposure. Densely ionizing radiation, for example, alpha particle radiation (from radon or plutonium) and neutron radiation, preferentially induces complex chromosome aberrations, which can be detected by the 24-color multifluor fluorescence in situ hybridization (mFISH) technique. We report the detection and quantification of stable complex chromosome aberrations in lymphocytes of healthy former nuclear-weapons workers, who were exposed many years ago to plutonium, gamma rays, or both, at the Mayak weapons complex in Russia. We analyzed peripheral-blood lymphocytes from these individuals for the presence of persistent complex chromosome aberrations. A significantly elevated frequency of complex chromosome translocations was detected in the highly exposed plutonium workers but not in the group exposed only to high doses of gamma radiation. No such differences were found for simple chromosomal aberrations. The results suggest that stable complex chromosomal translocations represent a long-lived, quantitative, low-background biomarker of densely ionizing radiation for human populations exposed many years ago.
In a previous paper we reported that a group of children exposed to ionizing radiation following the Chernobyl accident exhibited an appreciable number of chromosome breaks and rearrangements reflecting the persistence of a radiation-induced damage. The results suggested that the children were still exposed to radioactive contamination through consumer foodstuff and life styles. In the present paper, 31 exposed children have been considered together with a control group of 11 children with the aim to confirm previous results. All children underwent whole-body counter (WBC) measures and conventional cytogenetic analysis. The frequency of chromosome aberrations detected by conventional cytogenetics in the group of children chronically exposed to low doses of ionizing radiation resulted in significant differences with respect to the control group. The present work suggests that, for these groups of children, even if the frequency of aberrations is very low and the observation of statistically significant differences is consequently a problem, a persistently abnormal cytogenetic picture is still present several years after the accident.
The present study concerns the monitoring of children from the Byelorussian, Ukrainian and Russian republics exposed to the fall-out of the Chernobyl accident. Cytogenetic analyses have been performed on 41 children coming from different areas and exhibiting varying amounts of 137Cs internal contamination, as evaluated by whole-body counter (WBC) analysis. On a total of 28,670 metaphases scored, radiation-induced chromosome damage is still present, although at a very low frequency. Due to the very low fraction of dicentrics, because of the time elapsed from the accident and the relatively low doses of exposure, radiobiological dosimetry is not possible for these children. However, considering that the WBC data indicate that the children are still exposed to 137Cs contamination, the observed occurrence of stable chromosome rearrangements and breaks may represent the persisting effect of continuous low doses of radiation. The present study also indicates that the parallel use of internal contamination dosimetry and cytogenetics could be usefully employed to monitor individual exposure to radiation and to define further management measures.
Do human lymphocytes exposed to the fallout of the Chernobyl accident exhibit an adaptive response? III. Challenge with bleomycin in lymphocytes from children hit by the initial acute dose of ionizing radiation.
In the present paper, we report data on the possible adaptive response, induced in vivo by exposure to ionizing radiation to a challenge treatment with the radiomimetic glycopeptide bleomycin (BLM). Lymphocytes from children living in Pripjat at the time of the Chernobyl accident, and thus hit by the initial acute dose of ionizing radiation, were treated for the last 5 h of culture with 0.004 U/ml BLM. Significantly lower chromosome damage was found only in lymphocytes from children who, independently of the initial acute exposure to ionizing radiation, still showed a 137Cs internal contamination, due to persistent continuous exposure to low doses of radiation. The present results indicate that past exposure to acute high dose of ionizing radiation does not interfere with resistance to BLM which is related to internal contamination.
Speculation has long surrounded the question of whether past exposure to ionizing radiation leaves a unique permanent signature in the genome. Intrachromosomal rearrangements or deletions are produced much more efficiently by densely ionizing radiation than by chemical mutagens, x-rays, or endogenous aging processes. Until recently, such stable intrachromosomal aberrations have been very hard to detect, but a new chromosome band painting technique has made their detection practical. We report the detection and quantification of stable intrachromosomal aberrations in lymphocytes of healthy former nuclear-weapons workers who were exposed to plutonium many years ago. Even many years after occupational exposure, more than half the blood cells of the healthy plutonium workers contain large (>6 Mb) intrachromosomal rearrangements. The yield of these aberrations was highly correlated with plutonium dose to the bone marrow. The control groups contained very few such intrachromosomal aberrations. Quantification of this large-scale chromosomal damage in human populations exposed many years earlier will lead to new insights into the mechanisms and risks of cytogenetic damage.
A multicolor banding (mBAND) fluorescence in situ hybridization technique was used to investigate the presence inhuman populations of a stable biomarker-intrachromosomal chromosome aberrations-of past exposure to high-LET radiation. Peripheral blood lymphocytes were taken from healthy Russian nuclear workers occupationally exposed from 1949 onward to either plutonium, gamma rays or both. Metaphase spreads were produced and chromosomes 1 and 2 were hybridized with mBAND FISH probes and scored for intra-chromosomal aberrations. A large yield of intrachromosomal aberrations was observed in both chromosomes of the individuals exposed to high doses of plutonium, whereas there was no significant increase over the (low) background control rate in the population who were exposed to high doses of gamma rays. Interchromosome aberration yields were similar in both the high plutonium and the high gamma-ray groups. These results for chromosome 1 and 2 confirm and extend data published previously for chromosome 5. Intrachromosomal aberrations thus represent a potential biomarker for past exposure to high-LET radiations such as alpha particles and neutrons and could possibly be used as a biodosimeter to estimate both the dose and type of radiation exposure in previously exposed populations.