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Mutat Res. 2004 Dec 2;568(1):111-20.

Genotoxicity in the eyes of bystander cells.

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  • 1Center for Radiological Research, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, Vanderbilt Clinic 11-205, 630 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA.


The controversial use of a linear, no threshold extrapolation model for low dose risk assessment has become even more so in light of the recent reports on the bystander phenomenon. The answer to the question as to which of the two phenomena, bystander versus adaptive response, is more important has practical implication in terms of low dose radiation risk assessment. In this review, genotoxicity is used as an endpoint to introduce the two phenomena, provide some insight into the mechanisms of bystander effect and to bridge the two low dose phenomena which operate in opposite directions: the bystander effect tends to exaggerate the effect at low doses, by communicating damage from hit to non-hit cells whereas the adaptive response confers resistance to a subsequent challenging dose by an initial low priming dose.

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