Over the last 50 years, a number of important physiological changes in humans who have traveled on spaceflights have been catalogued. Of major concern are the short- and long-term radiation-induced injuries to the hematopoietic system that may be induced by high-energy galactic cosmic rays encountered on interplanetary space missions. To collect data on the effects of space radiation on the human hematopoietic system in vivo, we used a humanized mouse model. In this study, we irradiated humanized mice with 0.4 Gy of 350 MeV/n 28Si ions, a dose that has been shown to induce tumors in tumor-prone mice and a reference dose that has a relative biological effectiveness of 1 (1 Gy of 250-kVp X rays). Cell counts, cell subset frequency and cytogenetic data were collected from bone marrow spleen and blood of irradiated and control mice at short-term (7, 30 and 60 days) and long-term (67 months) time points postirradiation. The data show a significant short-term effect on the human hematopoietic stem cell counts imparted by both high- and low-LET radiation exposure. The radiation effects on bone marrow, spleen and blood human cell counts and human cell subset frequency were complex but did not alter the functions of the hematopoietic system. The long-term data acquired from high-LET irradiated mice showed complete recovery of the human hematopoietic system in all hematopoietic compartments. The combined results demonstrate that, in spite of early perturbation, the longer term effects of high-LET radiation are not detrimental to human hematopoiesis in our system of study.

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