In this study we sought to confirm the radiosensitivity of human peripheral blood lymphocyte subpopulations using a micronucleus assay. Mononucleated cells isolated from peripheral blood were irradiated with X rays. After being cultured for 3 days, cells were fixed and stained using the immunoperoxidase staining technique. Lymphocyte subpopulations were characterized by means of the monoclonal antibodies Leu4 (CD3), Leu2a (CD8) and Leu19 (CD56). Dose-response curves were obtained by scoring the number of micronuclei in binucleated cells that reacted with a specific antibody and were then stained. The dose response of CD8+ (suppressor / cytotoxic) cells was quite similar to that of CD3+ (pan T) cells. In comparison, CD56+ (natural killer) cells were significantly less sensitive, although scorable binucleated CD56+ cells made up less than 4% of the total number of binucleated cells.

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