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Radiat Res. 2012 May;177(5):663-75. Epub 2012 Apr 3.

Efficacy of radiation countermeasures depends on radiation quality.

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Radiation Countermeasures Program, Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute (AFRRI), Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, Maryland 20889-5603, USA.


The detonation of a nuclear weapon or a nuclear accident represent possible events with significant exposure to mixed neutron/γ-radiation fields. Although radiation countermeasures generally have been studied in subjects exposed to pure photons (γ or X rays), the mechanisms of injury of these low linear energy transfer (LET) radiations are different from those of high-LET radiation such as neutrons, and these differences may affect countermeasure efficacy. We compared 30-day survival in mice after varying doses of pure γ and mixed neutron/γ (mixed field) radiation (MF, Dn/Dt = 0.65), and also examined peripheral blood cells, bone marrow cell reconstitution, and cytokine expression. Mixed-field-irradiated mice displayed prolonged defects in T-cell populations compared to mice irradiated with pure γ photons. In mouse survival assays, the growth factor granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) was effective as a (post-irradiation) mitigator against both γ-photons and mixed-field radiation, while the thrombopoietin (TPO) mimetic ALXN4100TPO was effective only against γ irradiation. The results indicate that radiation countermeasures should be tested against radiation qualities appropriate for specific scenarios before inclusion in response plans.

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