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J Med Phys. 2019 Apr-Jun;44(2):113-117. doi: 10.4103/jmp.JMP_95_18.

Probing the Effects of Ionizing Radiation on Young's Modulus of Human Erythrocytes Cytoskeleton using Atomic Force Microscopy.

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2 Department of Radiology, Medical Physics Unit, Medical School, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece.
Department of Physics, Faculty of Applied Mathematical and Physical Sciences, National Technical University of Athens, Athens, Greece.



In this work, we examined the possible effects of ionizing radiation (IR) on biomechanical properties of the membrane-cytoskeleton of human erythrocytes, after X-ray irradiation.

Materials and Methods:

Whole human blood from three healthy middle-aged volunteers was drawn by venipuncture and stored in tubes containing anticoagulant. Six blood samples were collected for each volunteer. Five of them were irradiated in the range of 0.1 Gy-2.0 Gy doses and one was used as control. The morphology and the elastic modulus of the erythrocytes were examined using atomic force microscopy and just few drops of whole blood.


No morphological changes appeared according to the shape and the morphology of the erythrocytes. The elastic modulus of the irradiated samples was reduced with the increase of radiation dose. The findings indicate that X-ray irradiation affects the biomechanical properties of erythrocyte cytoskeleton. The mean value of Young's modulus of all the irradiated blood samples was significant difference from the control at a level, P < 0.01.


The elastic modulus of the erythrocytes could be an indicator of the adverse effect in the human blood generated by IR exposure through a radiotherapy treatment.


Biomechanical properties; elastic modulus; erythrocyte cytoskeleton; ionizing radiation effects

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