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Int J Radiat Biol. 2011 Dec;87(12):1173-81. doi: 10.3109/09553002.2011.624393. Epub 2011 Nov 18.

Comparison of proton and electron radiation effects on biological responses in liver, spleen and blood.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Medicine, Radiation Research Laboratories, Loma Linda University and Medical Center, Loma Linda, CA 92354, USA.



To determine whether differences exist between proton and electron radiations on biological responses after total-body exposure.


ICR mice (n=45) were irradiated to 2 Gray (Gy) using fully modulated 70 MeV protons (0.5 Gy/min) and 21 MeV electrons (3 Gy/min). At 36 h post-irradiation liver gene expression, white blood cell (WBC), natural killer (NK) cell and other analyses were performed.


Oxidative stress-related gene expression patterns were strikingly different for irradiated groups compared to 0 Gy (P<0.05). Proton radiation up-regulated 15 genes (Ctsb, Dnm2, Gpx5, Il19, Il22, Kif9, Lpo, Nox4, Park7, Prdx4, Prdx6, Rag2, Sod3, Srxn1, Xpa) and down-regulated 2 genes (Apoe, Prdx1). After electron irradiation, 20 genes were up-regulated (Aass, Ctsb, Dnm2, Gpx1, Gpx4, Gpx5, Gpx6, Gstk1, Il22, Kif9, Lpo, Nox4, Park7, Prdx3, Prdx4, Prdx5, Rag2, Sod1, Txnrd3, Xpa) and 1 was down-regulated (Mpp4). Of the modified genes, only 11 were common to both forms of radiation. Comparison between the two irradiated groups showed that electrons significantly up-regulated three genes (Gstk1, Prdx3, Scd1). Numbers of WBC and major leukocyte types were low in the irradiated groups (P<0.001 vs. 0 Gy). Hemoglobin and platelet counts were low in the electron-irradiated group (P<0.05 vs. 0 Gy). However, spleens from electron-irradiated mice had higher WBC and lymphocyte counts, as well as enhanced NK cell cytotoxicity, compared to animals exposed to protons (P<0.05). There were no differences between the two irradiated groups in body mass, organ masses, and other assessed parameters, although some differences were noted compared to 0 Gy.


Collectively, the data demonstrate that at least some biological effects induced by electrons may not be directly extrapolated to protons.

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