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Health Phys. 2009 Nov;97(5):470-80. doi: 10.1097/HP.0b013e3181b08eee.

Variations in radiosensitivity among individuals: a potential impact on risk assessment?

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  • 1Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA.


To have an impact on risk assessment for purposes of radiation protection recommendations, significantly broad variations in carcinogenic radiosensitivity would have to exist in significant proportions in the human population. Even if we knew all the genes where mutations would have major effects, individual genome sequencing does not seem useful, since we do not know all these genes, nor can we be certain of the phenotypic effect of polymorphisms discovered. Further, sequencing would not reveal epigenetic changes in gene expression. Another approach to develop phenotypic biomarkers for cells or tissues for which variations in radiation response may reflect the variations in carcinogenic sensitivity. To be useful, experimental evidence for such a correlation would be crucial, and it is also evident that correlations may be tissue or tumor specific. Some cellular markers are discussed that have shown promise in this regard. They include chromosome aberration induction and DNA repair assays that are sufficiently sensitive to measure after modest or low doses or dose rates. To this end we summarize here some of these assays and review the results of a number of experiments from our laboratory that show clear differences in DNA repair capacity reflected by gamma-H2AX foci formation in cells from a high proportion (perhaps 1/3) of apparently normal individuals. A low dose-rate assay was used to amplify such differences. Another promising assay combines G(2) chromosomal radiosensitivity with the above gamma-H2AX foci on mitotic chromosomes. There are other potentially useful assays as well.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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