Radiation-Induced Apoptosis in Human Lymphocytes
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We have tested the possibility of using apoptosis (programmed cell death) in human peripheral blood lymphocytes as a short-term biological dosimeter. Lymphocytes isolated from whole blood were irradiated in culture with 250 kVp x-rays or 60Co gamma rays. Two assays were used to measure apoptosis in lymphocytes after irradiation: in situ terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase assay and fluorescence analysis of DNA unwinding assay. Similar qualitative and quantitative results were produced by the assays, supporting the notion that the fluorescence analysis of DNA unwinding assay measured DNA fragmentation associated with apoptosis. Induction of apoptosis in lymphocytes irradiated in vitro was proportional to dose and could be detected following exposures as low as 0.05 Gy. Lymphocytes from individual donors had reproducible dose responses. There was, however, variation between donors. X-ray and gamma-ray exposures induced similar levels of apoptosis at similar doses. The induction kinetics of apoptosis in vitro indicate a maximum is reached about 72 h after irradiation. In conclusion, the in vitro experimental evidence indicates that radiation-induced apoptosis in human lymphocytes has the kinetics, sensitivity, and reproducibility to be a potential biological dosimeter.
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