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Radiat Res. 1998 Aug;150(2):227-36.

Flow cytometry measurements of subsets of T, B and NK cells in peripheral blood lymphocytes of atomic bomb survivors.

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Department of Radiobiology, Radiation Effects Research Foundation, Hiroshima, Japan.


Previous studies of blood cells from atomic bomb survivors have shown that frequencies of chromosome aberrations and somatic mutations are elevated in heavily exposed survivors and that T-cell functions and the number of mature T cells are decreased in the survivors who were exposed to radiation as adults. Current progress in flow cytometry allows a sophisticated analysis of various subsets of T, B and NK cells. In the present study, proportions of such subsets in peripheral blood lymphocytes from atomic bomb survivors (159 survivors estimated to be exposed to > or =1.5 Gy) and 252 controls were measured using multiple combinations of monoclonal antibodies to lymphocyte differentiation antigens to investigate whether the previous radiation exposure had altered the composition of the subsets. Among T-cell subsets, the proportion of CD4+ T-cell subsets was decreased significantly in the heavily exposed survivors; this tendency was apparent for the CD4+CD45RA+ naive T-cell subset. However, there were no significant differences in the proportions of CD8+ T-cell subsets between the exposed survivors and controls. As for the B-cell subsets, the proportion of both CD5+ and CD5 B cells as well as CD23+ and CD23- B cells increased in the heavily exposed survivors. Further, no effect of radiation was found in the proportion of NK-cell subsets. These results strongly suggest that previous radiation exposure altered the composition of T and B cells in the peripheral blood of atomic bomb survivors, and they raise the possibility that atomic bomb radiation may have affected the developmental processes of T and B cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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