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J Environ Radioact. 2003;64(2-3):247-59.

Genomic instability in human osteoblast cells after exposure to depleted uranium: delayed lethality and micronuclei formation.

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  • 1Applied Cellular Radiobiology Department Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute, Bethesda, MD 20889-5603, USA.


It is known that radiation can induce a transmissible persistent destabilization of the genome. We have established an in vitro cellular model using HOS cells to investigate whether genomic instability plays a role in depleted uranium (DU)-induced effects. Transmissible genomic instability, manifested in the progeny of cells exposed to ionizing radiation, has been characterized by de novo chromosomal aberrations, gene mutations, and an enhanced death rate. Cell lethality and micronuclei formation were measured at various times after exposure to DU, Ni, or gamma radiation. Following a prompt, concentration-dependent acute response for both endpoints, there was de novo genomic instability in progeny cells. Delayed reproductive death was observed for many generations (36 days, 30 population doublings) following exposure to DU, Ni, or gamma radiation. While DU stimulated delayed production of micronuclei up to 36 days after exposure, levels in cells exposed to gamma-radiation or Ni returned to normal after 12 days. There was also a persistent increase in micronuclei in all clones isolated from cells that had been exposed to nontoxic concentrations of DU. While clones isolated from gamma-irradiated cells (at doses equitoxic to metal exposure) generally demonstrated an increase in micronuclei, most clonal progeny of Ni-exposed cells did not. These studies demonstrate that DU exposure in vitro results in genomic instability manifested as delayed reproductive death and micronuclei formation.

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