It is known that about 5–10% of cancer patients show severe clinical side effects during and after radiotherapy due to enhanced sensitivity to ionizing radiation. Identification of those radiosensitive individuals by a reliable in vitro assay before onset of treatment would have a great impact on successful radiotherapy. We compared the radiosensitivity of the chromosomes 2, 11 and 17 in prostate cancer patients with and without severe side effects after radiotherapy and in age-matched healthy donors. Each cohort consisted of at least 10 donors. Peripheral blood lymphocytes were irradiated ex vivo with 0.5, 1 und 2 Gy (137Cs γ rays). We investigated the radiosensitivity of the chromosomes 2, 11 and 17 by scoring of 100 FISH painted metaphases for each dose point and donor group. Statistical analyses were performed by nonparametric tests as Mann-Whitney test and Kruskal-Wallis ANOVA, paired Wilcoxon rank test, χ2 goodness-of-fit test and Spearman rank-order correlation at a significance level of P < 0.05. Analysis of the overall aberration yield revealed no significant differences between any donor groups. The translocation frequencies of the chromosomes 2, 11 and 17 coincided with their relative size. Thus, none of the chromosomes analyzed were more or less radiosensitive with respect to the genomic translocation frequency. Additionally, neither of the chromosomes showed enhanced or diminished radiosensitivity in one of the donor groups. Furthermore, variance analyses revealed that the distribution pattern of the aberrations per donor did not differ in each donor group even after exposure to 2 Gy. Prostate cancer patients with and without side effects cannot be distinguished from healthy donors based on aberration yield after irradiation with γ rays.

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