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J Radiat Res. 2019 Nov 22;60(6):768-779. doi: 10.1093/jrr/rrz059.

Inflammatory profile dysregulation in nuclear workers occupationally exposed to low-dose gamma radiation.

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National Center of Radiobiology and Radiation Protection (NCRRP), 1606 Sofia, Bulgaria.

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Chronic inflammation is a common denominator linking a wide range of health conditions, including tissue response to radiation exposure. This pilot study investigates whether inflammatory cytokines-interleukins IL-6, -8, -10, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) and tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα)-can be used as early biomarkers of radiation-induced adverse health effects in occupationally exposed individuals. The study included 33 workers externally exposed to gamma radiation from the nuclear industry with cumulated doses from 0.11 to 190 mSv and 42 non-exposed controls of comparable age and socio-economic status. IL-6, IL-8, MCP-1, TNFα and IL-10 were analyzed by enzyme-linked assay (ELISA) in blood plasma samples. Total antioxidant status (TAS) of blood plasma was determined by a colorimetric assay. The radiation-exposed and control groups measured significantly different levels of MCP-1, TNFα and IL-10. Seventy-five percent of radiation workers had either high MCP-1 levels or low IL-10 levels and 30% had all three cytokines dysregulated. Approximately 50% of workers showed upregulated antioxidant status, which appeared to compensate the pro-inflammatory cytokine shift in these individuals. In contrast, only 2% of the control subjects were found to have three dysregulated cytokines, and all of them measured within the normal TAS range. The present study may represent an important step towards the establishment of a reliable set of biomarkers for health-risk estimation in population cohorts exposed to low radiation doses.


NOD-like receptor protein 4; biomarkers; chronic radiation exposure; inflammatory cytokines; low-dose radiation; nuclear workers; occupational exposure

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