Dionet, C., Tchirkov, A., Alard, J-P., Arnold, J., Dhermain, J., Rapp, M., Bodez, V., Tamain, J-C., Monbel, I., Malet, P., Kwiatkowski, F., Donnarieix, D., Veyre, A. and Verrelle, P. Effects of Low-Dose Neutrons Applied at Reduced Dose Rate on Human Melanoma Cells.
Human melanoma cells that are resistant to γ rays were irradiated with 14 MeV neutrons given at low doses ranging from 5 cGy to 1.12 Gy at a very low dose rate of 0.8 mGy min–1 or a moderate dose rate of 40 mGy min–1. The biological effects of neutrons were studied by two different methods: a cell survival assay after a 14-day incubation and an analysis of chromosomal aberrations in metaphases collected 20 h after irradiation. Unusual features of the survival curve at very low dose rate were a marked increase in cell killing at 5 cGy followed by a plateau for survival from 10 to 32.5 cGy. The levels of induced chromosomal aberrations showed a similar increase for both dose rates at 7.5 cGy and the existence of a plateau at the very low dose rate from 15 to 30 cGy. The existence of a plateau suggests that a repair process after low-dose neutrons might be induced after a threshold dose of 5–7.5 cGy which compensates for induced damage from doses as high as 32.5 cGy. These findings may be of interest for understanding the relative biological effectiveness of neutrons and the effects of environmental low-dose irradiation.