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In Vivo. 2001 May-Jun;15(3):195-208.

Dose and dose rate effects of whole-body gamma-irradiation: I. Lymphocytes and lymphoid organs.

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Department of Radiation Medicine, Radiobiology Program, Loma Linda University School of Medicine and Medical Center, Loma Linda, CA 92354, USA.
Loma Linda U, CA


The major goal of part I of this study was to compare varying doses and dose rates of whole-body gamma-radiation on lymphoid cells and organs. C57BL/6 mice (n = 75) were exposed to 0, 0.5, 1.5, and 3.0 Gy gamma-rays (60Co) at 1 cGy/min (low-dose rate, LDR) and 80 cGy/min (high-dose rate, HDR) and euthanized 4 days later. A significant dose-dependent loss of spleen mass was observed with both LDR and HDR irradiation; for the thymus this was true only with HDR. Decreasing leukocyte and lymphocyte numbers occurred with increasing dose in blood and spleen at both dose rates. The numbers (not percentages) of CD3+ T lymphocytes decreased in the blood in a dose-dependent manner at both HDR and LDR. Splenic T cell counts decreased with dose only in HDR groups; percentages increased with dose at both dose rates. Dose-dependent decreases occurred in CD4+ T helper and CD8+ T cytotoxic cell counts at HDR and LDR. In the blood the percentages of CD4+ cells increased with increasing dose at both dose rates, whereas in the spleen the counts decreased only in the HDR groups. The percentages of the CD8+ population remained stable in both blood and spleen. CD19+ B cell counts and percentages in both compartments declined markedly with increasing HDR and LDR radiation. NK1.1+ natural killer cell numbers and proportions remained relatively stable. Overall, these data indicate that the observed changes were highly dependent on the dose, but not dose rate, and that cells in the spleen are more affected by dose rate than those in blood. The results also suggest that the response of lymphocytes in different body compartments may be variable.

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