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Int J Radiat Biol. 2012 Mar;88(3):213-22. doi: 10.3109/09553002.2012.639434. Epub 2011 Dec 12.

Accelerated hematopoietic toxicity by high energy (56)Fe radiation.

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



There is little information on the relative toxicity of highly charged (Z) high-energy (HZE) radiation in animal models compared to γ or X-rays, and the general assumption based on in vitro studies has been that acute toxicity is substantially greater.


C57BL/6J mice were irradiated with (56)Fe ions (1 GeV/nucleon), and acute (within 30 d) toxicity compared to that of γ rays or protons (1 GeV). To assess relative hematopoietic and gastrointestinal toxicity, the effects of (56)Fe ions were compared to γ rays using complete blood count (CBC), bone marrow granulocyte-macrophage colony forming unit (GM-CFU), terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) assay for apoptosis in bone marrow, and intestinal crypt survival.


Although onset was more rapid, (56)Fe ions were only slightly more toxic than γ rays or protons with lethal dose (LD)(50/30) (a radiation dose at which 50% lethality occurs at 30-day) values of 5.8, 7.25, and 6.8 Gy, respectively, with relative biologic effectiveness for (56)Fe ions of 1.25 and 1.06 for protons.


(56)Fe radiation caused accelerated and more severe hematopoietic toxicity. Early mortality correlated with more profound leukopenia and subsequent sepsis. Results indicate that there is selective enhanced toxicity to bone marrow progenitor cells, which are typically resistant to γ rays, and bone marrow stem cells, because intestinal crypt cells did not show increased HZE toxicity.

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