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Mutat Res. 2004 Apr 14;548(1-2):75-84.

Methylation changes in muscle and liver tissues of male and female mice exposed to acute and chronic low-dose X-ray-irradiation.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Lethbridge, 4401 University Drive, Lethbridge, Alta., Canada T1K 3M4.


The biological and genetic effects of chronic low-dose radiation (LDR) exposure and its relationship to carcinogenesis have received a lot of attention in the recent years. For example, radiation-induced genome instability, which is thought to be a precursor of tumorogenesis, was shown to have a transgenerational nature. This indicates a possible involvement of epigenetic mechanisms in LDR-induced genome instability. Genomic DNA methylation is one of the most important epigenetic mechanisms. Existing data on radiation effects on DNA methylation patterns is limited, and no one has specifically studied the effects of the LDR. We report the first study of the effects of whole-body LDR exposure on global genome methylation in muscle and liver tissues of male and female mice. In parallel, we evaluated changes in promoter methylation and expression of the tumor suppressor gene p16(INKa) and DNA repair gene O(6)-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT). We observed different patterns of radiation-induced global genome DNA methylation in the liver and muscle of exposed males and females. We also found sex and tissue-specific differences in p16(INKa) promoter methylation upon LDR exposure. In male liver tissue, p16(INKa) promoter methylation was more pronounced than in female tissue. In contrast, no significant radiation-induced changes in p16(INKa) promoter methylation were noted in the muscle tissue of exposed males and females. Radiation also did not significantly affect methylation status of MGMT promoter. We also observed substantial sex differences in acute and chronic radiation-induced expression of p16(INKa) and MGMT genes. Another important outcome of our study was the fact that chronic low-dose radiation exposure proved to be a more potent inducer of epigenetic effects than the acute exposure. This supports previous findings that chronic exposure leads to greater genome destabilization than acute exposure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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