The effectiveness of simulated solar particle event (SPE) proton radiation to induce retching and vomiting was evaluated in the ferret experimental animal model. The endpoints measured in the study included: (1) the fraction of animals that retched or vomited, (2) the number of retches or vomits observed, (3) the latency period before the first retch or vomit and (4) the duration between the first and last retching or vomiting events. The results demonstrated that γ ray and proton irradiation delivered at a high dose rate of 0.5 Gy/min induced dose-dependent changes in the endpoints related to retching and vomiting. The minimum radiation doses required to induce statistically significant changes in retching- and vomiting-related endpoints were 0.75 and 1.0 Gy, respectively, and the relative biological effectiveness (RBE) of proton radiation at the high dose rate did not significantly differ from 1. Similar but less consistent and smaller changes in the retching- and vomiting-related endpoints were observed for groups irradiated with γ rays and protons delivered at a low dose rate of 0.5 Gy/h. Since this low dose rate is similar to a radiation dose rate expected during a SPE, these results suggest that the risk of SPE radiation-induced vomiting is low and may reach statistical significance only when the radiation dose reaches 1 Gy or higher.
Acute radiation sickness (ARS) is expected to occur in astronauts during large solar particle events (SPEs). One parameter associated with ARS is the hematopoietic syndrome, which can result from decreased numbers of circulating blood cells in those exposed to radiation. The peripheral blood cells are critical for an adequate immune response, and low blood cell counts can result in an increased susceptibility to infection. In this study, Yucatan minipigs were exposed to proton radiation within a range of skin dose levels expected for an SPE (estimated from previous SPEs). The proton-radiation exposure resulted in significant decreases in total white blood cell count (WBC) within 1 day of exposure, 60% below baseline control value or preirradiation values. At the lowest level of the blood cell counts, lymphocytes, neutrophils, monocytes and eosinophils were decreased up to 89.5%, 60.4%, 73.2% and 75.5%, respectively, from the preirradiation values. Monocytes and lymphocytes were decreased by an average of 70% (compared to preirradiation values) as early as 4 h after radiation exposure. Skin doses greater than 5 Gy resulted in decreased blood cell counts up to 90 days after exposure. The results reported here are similar to studies of ARS using the nonhuman primate model, supporting the use of the Yucatan minipig as an alternative. In addition, the high prevalence of hematologic abnormalities resulting from exposure to acute, whole-body SPE-like proton radiation warrants the development of appropriate countermeasures to prevent or treat ARS occurring in astronauts during space travel.
Willey, J. S., Grilly, L. G., Howard, S. H., Pecaut, M. J., Obenaus, A., Gridley, D. S., Nelson, G. A. and Bateman, T. A. Bone Architectural and Structural Properties after 56 Fe 26+ Radiation-Induced Changes in Body Mass. Radiat. Res. 170, 201– 207 (2008). High-energy, high-charge (HZE) radiation, including iron ions ( 56 Fe 26+ ), is a component of the space environment. We recently observed a profound loss of trabecular bone in mice after whole-body HZE irradiation. The goal of this study was to examine morphology in bones that were excluded from a 56 Fe 26+ beam used to irradiate the body. Using 10-week-old male Sprague-Dawley rats and excluding the hind limbs and pelvis, we irradiated animals with 0, 1, 2 and 4 Gy 56 Fe 26+ ions and killed them humanely after 9 months. Animals grew throughout the experiment. Trabecular bone volume, connectivity and thickness within the proximal tibiae were significantly lower than control in a dose-dependent manner. Irradiated animals generally had less body mass than controls, which largely accounted for the variability in bone parameters as determined by ANCOVA. Likewise, lower cortical parameters were associated with reduced mass. However, lesser trabecular thickness in the 4-Gy group could not be attributed to body mass alone. Indicators of bone metabolism were generally unchanged, suggesting stabilized turnover. Exposure to 56 Fe 26+ ions can alter trabecular microarchitecture in shielded bones. Reduced body mass seems to be correlated with these deficits of trabecular and cortical bone.