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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2008 Jul 15;71(4):1236-1244. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2008.03.043.

Development of gene expression signatures for practical radiation biodosimetry.

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  • 1Center for Radiological Research, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY 10032, USA.



In a large-scale radiologic emergency, estimates of exposure doses and radiation injury would be required for individuals without physical dosimeters. Current methods are inadequate for the task, so we are developing gene expression profiles for radiation biodosimetry. This approach could provide both an estimate of physical radiation dose and an indication of the extent of individual injury or future risk.


We used whole genome microarray expression profiling as a discovery platform to identify genes with the potential to predict radiation dose across an exposure range relevant for medical decision making in a radiologic emergency. Human peripheral blood from 10 healthy donors was irradiated ex vivo, and global gene expression was measured both 6 and 24 h after exposure.


A 74-gene signature was identified that distinguishes between four radiation doses (0.5, 2, 5, and 8 Gy) and controls. More than one third of these genes are regulated by TP53. A nearest centroid classifier using these same 74 genes correctly predicted 98% of samples taken either 6 h or 24 h after treatment as unexposed, exposed to 0.5, 2, or > or =5 Gy. Expression patterns of five genes (CDKN1A, FDXR, SESN1, BBC3, and PHPT1) from this signature were also confirmed by real-time polymerase chain reaction.


The ability of a single gene set to predict radiation dose throughout a window of time without need for individual pre-exposure controls represents an important advance in the development of gene expression for biodosimetry.

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