Relative effectiveness of HZE iron-56 particles for the induction of cytogenetic damage in vivo. Academic Article uri icon


  • One of the risks of prolonged manned space flight is the exposure of astronauts to radiation from galactic cosmic rays, which contain heavy ions such as (56)Fe. To study the effects of such exposures, experiments were conducted at the Brookhaven National Laboratory by exposing Wistar rats to high-mass, high-Z, high-energy (HZE) particles using the Alternating Gradient Synchrotron (AGS). The biological effectiveness of (56)Fe ions (1000 MeV/nucleon) relative to low-LET gamma rays and high-LET alpha particles for the induction of chromosome damage and micronuclei was determined. The mitotic index and the frequency of chromosome aberrations were evaluated in bone marrow cells, and the frequency of micronuclei was measured in cells isolated from the trachea and the deep lung. A marked delay in the entry of cells into mitosis was induced in the bone marrow cells that decreased as a function of time after the exposure. The frequencies of chromatid aberrations and micronuclei increased as linear functions of dose. The frequency of chromosome aberrations induced by HZE particles was about 3.2 times higher than that observed after exposure to (60)Co gamma rays. The frequency of micronuclei in rat lung fibroblasts, lung epithelial cells, and tracheal epithelial cells increased linearly, with slopes of 7 x 10(-4), 12 x 10(-4), and 11 x 10(-4) micronuclei/binucleated cell cGy(-1), respectively. When genetic damage induced by radiation from (56)Fe ions was compared to that from exposure to (60)Co gamma rays, (56)Fe-ion radiation was between 0.9 and 3.3 times more effective than (60)Co gamma rays. However, the HZE-particle exposures were only 10-20% as effective as radon in producing micronuclei in either deep lung or tracheal epithelial cells. Using microdosimetric techniques, we estimated that 32 cells were hit by delta rays for each cell that was traversed by the primary HZE (56)Fe particle. These calculations and the observed low relative effectiveness of the exposure to HZE particles suggest that at least part of the cytogenetic damage measured was caused by the delta rays. Much of the energy deposited by the primary HZE particles may result in cell killing and may therefore be "wasted" as far as production of detectable micronuclei is concerned. The role of wasted energy in studies of cancer induction may be important in risk estimates for exposure to HZE particles.

published proceedings

  • Radiat Res

author list (cited authors)

  • Brooks, A., Bao, S., Rithidech, K., Couch, L. A., & Braby, L. A.

citation count

  • 55

complete list of authors

  • Brooks, A||Bao, S||Rithidech, K||Couch, LA||Braby, LA

publication date

  • February 2001