Pecaut, M. J., Dutta-Roy, R., Smith, A. L., Jones, T. A., Nelson, G. A. and Gridley, D. S. Acute Effects of Iron-Particle Radiation on Immunity. Part I: Population Distributions. Radiat. Res. 165, 68–77 (2006).

Health risks due to exposure to high-linear energy transfer (LET) charged particles remain unclear. The major goal of this study was to confirm and further characterize the acute effects of high-LET radiation (56Fe26) on erythrocyte, thrombocyte and leukocyte populations in three body compartments after total-body exposure. Adult female C57BL/6 mice were irradiated with total doses of 0, 0.5, 2 and 3 Gy and killed humanely 4 days later. Body and organ masses were determined and blood, spleen and bone marrow leukocytes were evaluated using a hematology analyzer and flow cytometry. Spleen and thymus (but not body, liver and lung) masses were significantly decreased in a dose-dependent manner. In general, red blood cell (RBC) counts and most other RBC parameters were depressed with increasing dose (P < 0.05); the major exception was an increase in cell size at 0.5 Gy. Platelet numbers and volume, total white blood cell counts, and all three major types of leukocytes also decreased (P < 0.05). Lymphocyte populations in blood and spleen exhibited variable degrees of susceptibility to 56Fe-particle radiation (B > T > NK and T cytotoxic > T helper cells). In the bone marrow, leukocytes with granulocytic, lymphocytic (“dim” and “bright”), and monocytic characteristics exhibited proportional variations at the higher radiation doses in the expression of CD34 and/or Ly-6A/E. The data are discussed in relation to our previous investigations with iron ions, other forms of radiation, and space flight in this same animal model.

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