An investigation into neutron-induced bystander effects: How low can you go?
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Neutron radiation is very harmful to both individual organisms and the environment. A n understanding of all aspects of both direct and indirect effects of radiation is necessary to accurately assess the risk of neutron radiation exposure. This review seeks to review current evidence in the literature for radiation-induced bystander effects and related effects attributable to neutron radiation. It also attempts to determine if the suggested evidence in the literature is sufficient to justify claims that neutron-based radiation can cause radiation-induced bystander effects. Lastly, the present paper suggests potential directions for future research concerning neutron radiation-induced bystander effects. Data was collected from studies investigating radiation-induced bystander effects and was used to mathematically generate pooled datasets and putative trends; this was done to potentially elucidate both the appearance of a conventional trend for radiation-induced bystander effects in studies using different types of radiation. Furthermore, literature review was used to compare studies utilizing similar tissue models to determine if neutron effects follow similar trends as those produced by electromagnetic radiation. We conclude that the current understanding of neutron-attributable radiation-induced bystander effects is incomplete. Various factors such as high gamma contamination during the irradiations, unestablished thresholds for gamma effects, different cell lines, energies, and different dose rates affected our ability to confirm a relationship between neutron irradiation and RIBE, particularly in low-dose regions below 100 mGy. It was determined through meta-analysis of the data that effects attributable to neutrons do seem to exist at higher doses, while gamma effects seem likely predominant at lower dose regions. Therefore, whether neutrons can induce bystander effects at lower doses remains unclear. Further research is required to confirm these findings and various recommendations are made to assist in this effort. With these recommendations, we hope that research conducted in the future will be better equipped to explore the indirect effects of neutron radiation as they pertain to biological and ecological phenomena.
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