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Radiat Res. 1991 Mar;125(3):248-56.

The influence of age at time of exposure to 226Ra or 239Pu on distribution, retention, postinjection survival, and tumor induction in beagle dogs.

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  • 1Radiobiology Division, School of Medicine, University of Utah, Salt Lake City 84112.


The influence of age at injection of 226Ra or 239Pu on skeletal deposition and local distribution, the pattern of bone tumor formation, and postinjection survival was assessed in parallel short-term studies of mechanisms and lifetime toxicity. Beagles received a single intravenous injection of 226Ra or 239Pu at 3 months (juveniles), 17-19 months (young adults) or 60 months (mature). Data from short-term studies of mechanisms and dosimetry and from one dosage level (41 kBq 226Ra/kg or 11 kBq 239Pu/kg body mass) of each of the toxicity experiments were compared. Skeletal growth and turnover produced differential initial deposition and distribution patterns typical for each age group. At 1 week after injection, skeletal retention of 226Ra or 239Pu was 68 and 68%, respectively, in the juveniles, 32 and 46% in the young adults, and 31 and 43% in the mature dogs. Comparing individual bones in the juveniles, gradients in the concentration of 239Pu were small since all bones were actively growing, but substantial gradients, corresponding to centers of ossification, were present within individual bones. In other age groups, local concentration gradients were less pronounced, but much larger differences were present among the various bones. In the toxicity study all animals injected with either 41 kBq 226Ra/kg or 11 kBq 239Pu/kg have died. The cumulative average skeletal doses to the presumed time of start of tumor growth (1 year before death) were 25 and 4 Gy, respectively, for the juveniles, 22 and 5 Gy for the young adults, and 15 and 4 Gy for the mature dogs. The highest bone tumor incidence was seen in the young adult groups. Differences were observed in location of bone tumors between dogs in the same age group given radium or plutonium and among age groups injected with either radionuclide, some of which could be explained by differences in local dose distributions. Median postinjection survival assessed by the Kaplan-Meier nonparametric method ranged from 2513 and 2592 days for the juveniles to 2099 and 1617 for the young adults to 2086 and 1421 in the mature groups. Cox regression analysis indicated no significant differences in postinjection survivals (uncorrected for the different preinjection periods) of groups injected with radium, but there was a statistically significant difference among the groups injected with plutonium. It was demonstrated that differences in the effects of 239Pu in the three groups were due primarily to the age- and time-dependent local distribution of the radionuclide.

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