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Oncol Rep. 2017 Mar;37(3):1379-1386. doi: 10.3892/or.2017.5407. Epub 2017 Jan 25.

Analysis of chromosomal radiosensitivity of healthy BRCA2 mutation carriers and non-carriers in BRCA families with the G2 micronucleus assay.

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Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Ghent University, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium.
Department of Pediatrics and Medical Genetics, Ghent University, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium.
Center for Medical Genetics, Ghent University Hospital, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium.


Breast cancer risk drastically increases in individuals with a heterozygous germline BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, while it is estimated to equal the population risk for relatives without the familial mutation (non-carriers). The aim of the present study was to use a G2 phase-specific micronucleus assay to investigate whether lymphocytes of healthy BRCA2 mutation carriers are characterized by increased radiosensitivity compared to controls without a family history of breast/ovarian cancer and how this relates to healthy non-carrier relatives. BRCA2 is active in homologous recombination, a DNA damage repair pathway, specifically active in the late S/G2 phase of the cell cycle. We found a significantly increased radiosensitivity in a cohort of healthy BRCA2 mutation carriers compared to individuals without a familial history of breast cancer (P=0.046; Mann-Whitney U test). At the individual level, 50% of healthy BRCA2 mutation carriers showed a radiosensitive phenotype (radiosensitivity score of 1 or 2), whereas 83% of the controls showed no radiosensitivity (P=0.038; one-tailed Fisher's exact test). An odds ratio of 5 (95% CI, 1.07-23.47) indicated an association between the BRCA2 mutation and radiosensitivity in healthy mutation carriers. These results indicate the need for the gentle use of ionizing radiation for either diagnostic or therapeutic use in BRCA2 mutation carriers. We detected no increased radiosensitivity in the non-carrier relatives.

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