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Health Phys. 2012 Nov;103(5):607-20. doi: 10.1097/HP.0b013e31826945b9.

Genetic susceptibility: radiation effects relevant to space travel.

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  • 1Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.


Genetic variation in the capacity to repair radiation damage is an important factor influencing both cellular and tissue radiosensitivity variation among individuals as well as dose rate effects associated with such damage. This paper consists of two parts. The first part reviews some of the available data relating to genetic components governing such variability among individuals in susceptibility to radiation damage relevant for radiation protection and discusses the possibility and extent to which these may also apply for space radiations. The second part focuses on the importance of dose rate effects and genetic-based variations that influence them. Very few dose rate effect studies have been carried out for the kinds of radiations encountered in space. The authors present here new data on the production of chromosomal aberrations in noncycling low passage human ATM+/+ or ATM+/- cells following irradiations with protons (50 MeV or 1 GeV), 1 GeV(-1) n iron ions and gamma rays, where doses were delivered at a high dose rate of 700 mGy(-1) min, or a lower dose rate of 5 mGy min(-1). Dose responses were essentially linear over the dose ranges tested and not significantly different for the two cell strains. Values of the dose rate effectiveness factor (DREF) were expressed as the ratio of the slopes of the dose-response curves for the high versus the lower (5 mGy min(-1)) dose rate exposures. The authors refer to this as the DREF5. For the gamma ray standard, DREF5 values of approximately two were observed. Similar dose rate effects were seen for both energies of protons (DREF5 ≈ 2.2 in both cases). For 1 GeV(-1) n iron ions [linear energy transfer (LET) ≈ 150 keV μ(-1)], the DREF5 was not 1 as might have been expected on the basis of LET alone but was approximately 1.3. From these results and conditions, the authors estimate that the relative biological effectiveness for 1 GeV(-1) n iron ions for high and low dose rates, respectively, were about 10 and 15 rather than around 20 for low dose rates, as has been assumed by most recommendations from radiation protection organizations for charged particles of this LET. The authors suggest that similar studies using appropriate animal models of carcinogenesis would be valuable.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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