Wang, L.-E., Bondy, M. L., de Andrade, M., Strom, S. S., Wang, X., Sigurdson, A., Spitz, M. R. and Wei, Q. Gender Difference and Smoking Effect in Chromosome Sensitivity to Gamma Radiation in a Healthy Population.
In the general population, there is variation in radiosensitivity associated with cancer risk. However, data on the role of epigenetic factors in the variation of radiosensitivity are scarce. Thus we investigated the effects of smoking and age on the radiosensitivity of human lymphocytes by measuring the frequency of chromosome aberrations after in vitro exposure to γ rays in peripheral lymphocytes from 441 healthy subjects (18–95 years old). We analyzed the frequency of both spontaneous (baseline) and in vitro γ-ray-induced (1.5 Gy) chromatid breaks in 50 well-spread metaphases per subject. The overall mean frequencies of spontaneous and induced breaks were 0.02 and 0.45 per cell, respectively. The mean frequency of induced breaks was significantly higher in men than in women (P = 0.03) but did not differ by age or ethnicity. Donors who had ever smoked showed a small but significantly increased frequency of induced breaks (mean = 0.47) compared to nonsmokers (mean = 0.41; P = 0.005). Further stratification and multivariate analyses revealed that the smoking effect was more pronounced in men than in women. These findings support a smoking effect on radiosensitivity in a healthy population, particularly in men. Therefore, when evaluating the association between radiosensitivity and susceptibility to smoking-related cancers, the effect of smoking should be taken into account.