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Radiat Res. 2018 Feb;189(2):187-196. doi: 10.1667/RR14823.1. Epub 2017 Dec 11.

Chronic Exposure to External Low-Dose Gamma Radiation Induces an Increase in Anti-inflammatory and Anti-oxidative Parameters Resulting in Atherosclerotic Plaque Size Reduction in ApoE-/- Mice.

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a   Institut de Radioprotection et de Sureté Nucléaire (IRSN), PRP-HOM, SRBE, Fontenay-aux-Roses, France; and.
b   Radiobiology and Health, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, Chalk-River, Ontario K0J 1J0, Canada.


Populations living in radiation-contaminated territories, such as Chernobyl and Fukushima, are chronically exposed to external gamma radiation and internal radionuclide contamination due to the large amount of 137Cs released in the environment. The effect of chronic low-dose exposure on the development of cardiovascular diseases remains unclear. Previously reported studies have shown that low-dose radiation exposure could lead to discrepancies according to dose rate. In this study, we examined the effect of very low-dose and dose-rate chronic external exposure on atherosclerosis development. ApoE-/- mice were chronically irradiated with a gamma source for 8 months at two different dose rates, 12 and 28 μGy/h, equivalent to dose rates measured in contaminated territories, with a cumulative dose of 67 and 157 mGy, respectively. We evaluated plaque size and phenotype, inflammatory profile and oxidative stress status. The results of this study showed a decrease in plaque sizes and an increase in collagen content in ApoE-/- mice exposed to 28 μGy/h for 8 months compared to nonexposed animals. The plaque phenotype was associated with an increase in anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative gene expression. These results suggest that chronic low-dose gamma irradiation induces an upregulation of organism defenses leading to a decrease in inflammation and plaque size. To our knowledge, this is the first study to describe the possible effect of chronic external very low-dose ionizing radiation exposure for 8 months. This work could help to identify the potential existence of a dose threshold, below that which harmful effects are not exhibited and beneficial effects are potentially observed. Furthermore, these findings permit consideration of the importance of dose rate in radiation protection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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