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Radiat Res. 2008 Sep;170(3):335-44. doi: 10.1667/RR1147.1.

Broad modulation of gene expression in CD4+ lymphocyte subpopulations in response to low doses of ionizing radiation.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Dosimétrie Biologique, Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (IRSN), 92262 Fontenay-aux-Roses, France.


To compare the responses of the different lymphocyte subtypes after an exposure of whole blood to low doses of ionizing radiation, we examined variations in gene expression in different lymphocyte subpopulations using microarray technology. Blood samples from five healthy donors were independently exposed to 0 (sham irradiation), 0.05 and 0.5 Gy of ionizing radiation. Three and 24 h after exposure, CD56+, CD4+ and CD8+ cells were negatively isolated. RNA from each set of experimental conditions was competitively hybridized on 25k oligonucleotide microarrays. Modifications of gene expression were measured after both intervals and in all cell types. Twenty-four hours after exposure to 0.5 Gy, we observed an induction of the expression of BAX, PCNA, GADD45, DDB2 and CDKN1A. However, the numbers of modulated genes greatly differed between cell types. In particular, 3 h after exposure to doses as low as 0.05 Gy, the number of down-modulated genes was 10 times greater for CD4+ cells than for all other cell types. Moreover, most of these repressed genes were taking part in the cell processes of protein biosynthesis and oxidative phosphorylation. The results suggest that several biological pathways in CD4+ cells could be sensitive to low doses of radiation. Therefore, specifically studying CD4+ cells could help to understand the mechanisms involved in low-dose response and allow their detection.

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