The Mongolian gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus) is known to be one of the most radioresistant animals. We have examined the X-ray sensitivity of normal diploid fibroblasts from Mongolian gerbil embryos compared with those of cultured embryo cells obtained from various laboratory animals and a normal human. There was a wide difference in X-ray sensitivity for cell killing among different mammalian species. The D0 values for Mongolian gerbil cells ranged from 2.08 to 2.28 Gy, values which are twice as high as those for human cells. The mean D0 value for human cells was 1.06 Gy. Mouse, rat, Chinese hamster, and Syrian/golden hamster cells showed similar D0 values ranging from 1.30 to 1.56 Gy. When cells were irradiated with X rays, ten times more chromosome aberrations were detected in human cells than in Mongolian gerbil cells. The frequencies of chromosome aberrations in other rodent cells were between the values for cells from humans and those from gerbils. These data indicate that the Mongolian gerbil cells are resistant to X-ray-induced cell killing and chromosome aberrations, and that the radiation sensitivity of mammalian cells in primary culture may be reflected by their radioresistance in vivo.

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