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Environ Mol Mutagen. 1996;27(3):165-75.

Monitoring hprt mutant frequency over time in T-lymphocytes of people accidentally exposed to high doses of ionizing radiation.

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Centre for Environmental Health, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.


Modern technologies have provided the opportunity to monitor mutations in people in vivo. The subjects of this study were accidentally exposed to 137Cesium in a radiological accident that occurred in September 1987 in GoiĆ¢nia, Brazil, during which more than 150 people received doses greater than 0.1 Gy and as high as 7 Gy. The objective of this study was to determine how long the hprt mutant T-cells in the peripheral blood contribute to mutant frequency by examining the time-course of the T-lymphocyte response to ionizing radiation. This report describes the results obtained over a period of 2.3 to 4.5 years subsequent to the accident, from 11 subjects with doses ranging from 1 to 7 Gy, and from nine control subjects selected from the same population. The mean In MF (+/- SE) of the control group was 2.5 (+/- 0.2) + In10(-6). The exposed group had a significantly increased mutant frequency; the mean In MF (+/- SE) were 3.3 (+/- 0.3) + In10(-6), 2.8 (+/- 0.2) + In10(-6), and 2.3 (+/- 0.2) + In10(-6), in the years 1990-1992 respectively. Based on the decline of mutant frequency and using Buckton's models [Buckton et al. (1967): Nature 214:470-473], we demonstrated that mutant T-cells have a short-term memory with a half-life of 2.1 years. This relatively short half-life limits the effective use of the hprt assay as the method of choice to monitor past exposure. The data also demonstrate a positive correlation with age, and an inverse correlation with plating efficiency.

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