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Radiat Environ Biophys. 2010 Aug;49(3):389-96. doi: 10.1007/s00411-010-0292-2. Epub 2010 May 20.

Enhanced intestinal tumor multiplicity and grade in vivo after HZE exposure: mouse models for space radiation risk estimates.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular & Cell Biology and Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Georgetown University, 3970 Reservoir Rd., NW, Washington, DC 20057-1468, USA.


Carcinogenesis induced by space radiation is considered a major risk factor in manned interplanetary and other extended missions. The models presently used to estimate the risk for cancer induction following deep space radiation exposure are based on data from A-bomb survivor cohorts and do not account for important biological differences existing between high-linear energy transfer (LET) and low-LET-induced DNA damage. High-energy and charge (HZE) radiation, the main component of galactic cosmic rays (GCR), causes highly complex DNA damage compared to low-LET radiation, which may lead to increased frequency of chromosomal rearrangements, and contribute to carcinogenic risk in astronauts. Gastrointestinal (GI) tumors are frequent in the United States, and colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer accounting for 10% of all cancer deaths. On the basis of the aforementioned epidemiological observations and the frequency of spontaneous precancerous GI lesions in the general population, even a modest increase in incidence by space radiation exposure could have a significant effect on health risk estimates for future manned space flights. Ground-based research is necessary to reduce the uncertainties associated with projected cancer risk estimates and to gain insights into molecular mechanisms involved in space-induced carcinogenesis. We investigated in vivo differential effects of gamma-rays and HZE ions on intestinal tumorigenesis using two different murine models, ApcMin/+ and Apc1638N/+. We showed that gamma- and/or HZE exposure significantly enhances development and progression of intestinal tumors in a mutant-line-specific manner, and identified suitable models for in vivo studies of space radiation-induced intestinal tumorigenesis.

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