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Gerontology. 1998;44(5):272-6.

Effect of a continuous gamma irradiation at a very low dose on the life span of mice.

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Laboratoire d'Histologie-Embryologie-Cytogénétique, Faculté de Médecine Toulouse-Rangueil, Toulouse, France.



There is epidemiological evidence that suggests there are beneficial effects of ionizing radiation at low doses. Some experimental studies confirmed this hormetic effect with doses of about 1 cGy/day, but no data concerning very low dose rates are available.


The aim of this study was to determine the life span of mice exposed to very low doses of ionizing radiation.


Six hundred female C57BL/6 mice, 1 month old, were exposed to chronic gamma irradiation at very low dose rates of 7 or 14 cGy/year. These doses are about 25 or 50 times higher than background, but much lower than the doses of about 1 cGy/day used in previous experiments. Three hundred mice living in the same room were used as controls.


The life span, after the beginning of the experiment, determined by the survival time of 50% of each population, is increased in irradiated mice: 549 days in controls, 673 days in both irradiated groups. The differences are significant between the control and the irradiation mice. Differences between mice irradiated with 7 or 14 cGy are not significant.


These results confirm the possibility of a nonharmful effect (hormesis) of ionizing radiation. They demonstrate that the paradigm, which states that low-dose effects can be predicted high-dose effects, cannot be systematically applied in radiation biology in general and gerontology in particular.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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