Both fluorescence in situ hybridization of metaphase spreads with whole-chromosome probes and premature chromosome condensation in interphase nuclei have been used in the past to estimate the radiation dose to lymphocytes. We combined these techniques to evaluate the feasibility of using painting interphase chromosomes for biodosimetry. Human peripheral lymphocytes were exposed to γ rays and fused to mitotic Chinese hamster cells either immediately after irradiation or after 8 h incubation at 37°C. Interphase or metaphase human chromosomes were hybridized with a composite probe specific for human chromosomes 3 and 4. The dose-response curve for fragment induction immediately after irradiation was linear; these results reflected breakage frequency in the total genome in terms of DNA content per chromosome. At 8 h after irradiation, the dose-response curve for chromosome interchanges, the prevalent aberration in interphase chromosomes, was linear-quadratic and similar to that observed for metaphase chromosomes. These results suggest that painting prematurely condensed chromosomes can be useful for biological dosimetry when blood samples are available shortly after the exposure, or when interphase cells are to be scored instead of mitotic cells.

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