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Radiat Prot Dosimetry. 2006;122(1-4):256-9. Epub 2006 Dec 12.

A microbeam study of DNA double-strand breaks in bystander primary human fibroblasts.

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Center for Radiological Research, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, 630 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Radiation-induced bystander effect has been well documented. However, the mechanisms are poorly understood. How we incorporate this effect into the classical models of risk assessment remains an open question. Here, the induction of bystander effect was studied by assessing DNA double-strand break (DSB) formation in situ with the rapid and sensitive gamma-H2AX focus formation assay. Utilising the Columbia University single-cell microbeam system to deliver 2 or 20 individual alpha particles to selected cell nuclei in a precisely known proportion of cells in a population, the induced DNA DSB incidences were quantified 30 min and 18 h post-IR. The increase in DNA DSB incidence in bystander cells lacked of a linear dose response indicating that neither the dose of irradiation nor proportion of irradiated cells in a population, is a critical parameter. This study confirms a binary all-or-nothing model of triggering the bystander response. The delay and persistence of the bystander response suggests a different mechanism of DSB induction in bystander cells than in directly irradiated cells.

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