Cytogenetic dose–response and adaptive response in cells of ungulate species exposed to ionizing radiation
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In the studies reported here, the micronucleus assay, a common cytogenetic technique, was used to examine the dose-responses in fibroblasts from three ungulate species (white-tailed deer, woodland caribou, and Indian muntjac) exposed to high doses of ionizing radiation (1-4 Gy of (60)Co gamma radiation). This assay was also used to examine the effects of exposure to low doses (1-100 mGy) typical of what these species experience in a year from natural and anthropogenic environmental sources. An adaptive response, defined as the induction of resistance to a stressor by a prior exposure to a small "adapting" stress, was observed after exposure to low doses. This work indicates that very small doses are protective for the endpoint examined. The same level of protection was seen at all adapting doses, including 1 radiation track per cell, the lowest possible cellular dose. These results are consistent with other studies in a wide variety of organisms that demonstrate a protective effect of low doses at both cellular and whole-organism levels. This implies that environmental regulations predicated on the idea that even the smallest dose of radiation carries a quantifiable risk of direct adverse consequences to the exposed organism require further examination. Cytogenetic assays provide affordable and feasible biological effects-based alternatives that are more biologically relevant than traditional contaminant concentration-based radioecological risk assessment.
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