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Radiat Prot Dosimetry. 2006;122(1-4):154-9. Epub 2006 Dec 19.

The sensitivity of the alkaline comet assay in detecting DNA lesions induced by X rays, gamma rays and alpha particles.

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Federal Office for Radiation Protection, Department Radiation Protection and Health, Ingolstädter Landstrasse 1, 85764 Oberschleissheim, Germany.


Experiments were designed and performed in order to investigate whether or not the different cellular energy deposition patterns of photon radiation with different energies (29 kV, 220 kV X rays; Co-60, Cs-137-gamma-rays) and alpha-radiation from an Am-241 source differ in DNA damage induction capacity in human cells. For this purpose, the alkaline comet assay (single cell gel electrophoresis) was applied to measure the amount of DNA damage in relation to the dose received. The comet assay data for the parameters '% DNA in the tail' and 'tail moment' for human peripheral lymphocytes did not indicate any difference in the initial radiation damage produced by 29 kV X rays relative to the reference radiations, 220 kV X rays and the gamma rays, whether for the total mean dose range of 0-3 Gy nor in the low-dose range. In contrast, when the 'tail length' data were analysed saturation of the fitted dose response curve appeared for X rays at about 1.5 Gy but was not apparent for gamma rays up to 3 Gy. Preliminary data for alpha exposures of HSC45-M2 cells showed a significant increase in DNA damage only at high doses (>2 Gy Am-241), but the damage at 2 Gy exceeded the damage induced at 2 Gy by Cs-137-gamma-rays by a factor of 2.5. In contrast, other experiments involving different cell systems and DNA damage indicators such as chromosomal aberrations have detected a significant increase in DNA damage at much lower doses, that is at 0.02 Gy for Am-241 and depicte a higher biological effectiveness. These results indicate that differences in biological effects arise through downstream processing of complex DNA damage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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