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J Math Biol. 1993;31(3):291-315.

DNA damage in non-proliferating cells subjected to ionizing irradiation at high or low dose rates.

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Department of Mathematics, UCB, Berkeley, CA 94720.


Ionizing radiation damage to the genome of a non-cycling mammalian cell is analyzed using continuous time Markov chains. Immediate damage induced by the radiation is modeled as a batch Poisson arrival process of DNA double strand breaks (DSBs). Different kinds of radiation, for example gamma rays or alpha particles, have different batch probabilities. Enzymatic modulation of the immediate damage is modeled as a Markov process similar to the processes described by the master equation of stochastic chemical kinetics. An illustrative example is the restitution/complete exchange model, which postulates that radiation induced DSBs can subsequently either undergo enzymatically mediated repair (restitution) or can participate pairwise in chromosome exchanges, some of which make irremediable lesions such as dicentric chromosome aberrations. One may have rapid irradiation followed by enzymatic DSB processing or have prolonged irradiation with both DSB arrival and enzymatic DSB processing continuing throughout the irradiation period. A complete solution of the Markov chain is known for the case that the exchange rate constant is negligible so that no irremediable chromosome lesions are produced and DSBs are the only damage to the genome. Using PDEs for generating functions, a perturbation calculation is made assuming the exchange rate constant is small compared to the repair rate constant. Some non-perturbative results applicable to very prolonged irradiation are also obtained using matrix methods: Perron-Frobenius theory, variational methods and numerical approximations of eigenvalues. Applications to experimental results on expected values, variances and statistical distributions of DNA lesions are briefly outlined. Continuous time Markov chain models are the most systematic of those current radiation damage models which treat DSB-DSB interactions within the cell nucleus as homogeneous (e.g. ignore diffusion limitations). They contain most other homogeneous models as special cases, limiting cases or approximations. However, applying the continuous time Markov chain models to studying spatial dependence of DSB interactions, which is generally believed to be very important in some situations, presents difficulties.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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