The present study evaluated the acute effects of radiation dose, dose rate and fractionation as well as the energy of protons in hematopoietic cells of irradiated mice. The mice were irradiated with a single dose of 51.24 MeV protons at a dose of 2 Gy and a dose rate of 0.05–0.07 Gy/min or 1 GeV protons at doses of 0.1, 0.2, 0.5, 1, 1.5 and 2 Gy delivered in a single dose at dose rates of 0.05 or 0.5 Gy/min or in five daily dose fractions at a dose rate of 0.05 Gy/min. Sham-irradiated animals were used as controls. The results demonstrate a dose-dependent loss of white blood cells (WBCs) and lymphocytes by up to 61% and 72%, respectively, in mice irradiated with protons at doses up to 2 Gy. The results also demonstrate that the dose rate, fractionation pattern and energy of the proton radiation did not have significant effects on WBC and lymphocyte counts in the irradiated animals. These results suggest that the acute effects of proton radiation on WBC and lymphocyte counts are determined mainly by the radiation dose, with very little contribution from the dose rate (over the range of dose rates evaluated), fractionation and energy of the protons.

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