Hu, B., Han, W., Wu, L., Feng, H., Liu, X., Zhang, L., Xu, A., Hei, T K. and Yu, Z. In Situ Visualization of DSBs to Assess the Extranuclear/Extracellular Effects Induced by Low-Dose α-Particle Irradiation. Radiat. Res. 164, 286–291 (2005).
Extranuclear/extracellular effects may have a significant effect on low-dose radiation risk assessment as well as on the shape of the dose–response relationship. Numerous studies using different end points such as sister chromatid exchanges, micronuclei and mutation have shown that this phenomenon exists in many cell types. However, these end points mostly reflect the late events after radiation damage, and little is known about the early response in this phenomenon. DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) induced by ionizing radiation or carcinogenic chemicals can be visualized in situ using γ-H2AX immunofluorescence staining, and there is evidence that the number of γ-H2AX foci can be closely correlated with DSBs induced. Here we used γ-H2AX as a biomarker to assess the extranuclear/extracellular effects induced by low-dose α particles in situ. The results show that a greater fraction of positive cells with DSBs (48.6%) was observed than the number of cells whose nuclei were actually traversed by the 1-cGy dose of α particles (9.2%). The fraction of DSB-positive cells was greatly reduced after treatment with either lindane or DMSO. These results suggest that in situ visualization of DSBs can be used to assess radiation-induced extranuclear/extracellular effects soon after irradiation. Moreover, the in situ DSB assay may provide a means to evaluate the spatial effect on unirradiated cells that are located in the neighboring region of cells irradiated by α particles.