Gomolka, M., Rössler, U., Hornhardt, S., Walsh, L., Panzer, W. and Schmid, E. Measurement of the Initial Levels of DNA Damage in Human Lymphocytes Induced by 29 kV X Rays (Mammography X Rays) Relative to 220 kV X Rays and γ Rays. 163, 510–519 (2005).

Experiments using the alkaline comet assay, which measures all single-strand breaks regardless of their origin, were performed to evaluate the biological effectiveness of photons with different energies in causing these breaks. The aim was to measure human lymphocytes directly for DNA damage and subsequent repair kinetics induced by mammography 29 kV X rays relative to 220 kV X rays, 137Cs γ rays and 60Co γ rays. The level of DNA damage, predominantly due to single-strand breaks, was computed as the Olive tail moment or percentage DNA in the tail for different air kerma doses (0.5, 0.75, 1, 1.5, 2 and 3 Gy). Fifty cells were analyzed per slide with a semiautomatic imaging system. Data from five independent experiments were transformed to natural logarithms and fitted using a multiple linear regression analysis. Irradiations with the different photon energies were performed simultaneously for each experiment to minimize interexperimental variation. Blood from only one male and one female was used. The interexperimental variation and the influence of donor gender were negligible. In addition, repair kinetics and residual DNA damage after exposure to a dose of 3 Gy were evaluated in three independent experiments for different repair times (10, 20, 30 and 60 min). Data for the fraction of remaining damage were fitted to the simple function Fd = A/(t + A), where Fd is the fraction of remaining damage, t is the time allowed for repair, and A (the only fit parameter) is the repair half-time. It was found that the comet assay data did not indicate any difference in the initial radiation damage produced by 29 kV X rays relative to the reference radiation types, 220 kV X rays and the γ rays of 137Cs and 60Co, either for the total dose range or in the low-dose range. These results are, with some restrictions, consistent with physical examinations and predictions concerning, for example, the assessment of the possible difference in effectiveness in causing strand breaks between mammography X rays and conventional (150–250 kV) X rays, indicating that differences in biological effects must arise through downstream processing of the damage.

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