Radiation and Environmental Biophysics

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 1–12

Radioadaptive response revisited


DOI: 10.1007/s00411-006-0078-8

Cite this article as:
Tapio, S. & Jacob, V. Radiat Environ Biophys (2007) 46: 1. doi:10.1007/s00411-006-0078-8


Radiation-induced adaptive response belongs to the group of non-targeted effects that do not require direct exposure of the cell nucleus by radiation. It is described as the reduced damaging effect of a challenging radiation dose when induced by a previous low priming dose. Adaptive responses have been observed in vitro and in vivo using various indicators of cellular damage, such as cell lethality, chromosomal aberrations, mutation induction, radiosensitivity, and DNA repair. Adaptive response can be divided into three successive biological phenomena, the intracellular response, the extracellular signal, and the maintenance. The intracellular response leading to adaptation of a single cell is a complex biological process including induction or suppression of gene groups. An extracellular signal, the nature of which is unknown, may be sent by the affected cell to neighbouring cells causing them to adapt as well. This occurs either by a release of diffusible signalling molecules or by gap-junction intercellular communication. Adaptive response can be maintained for periods ranging from of a few hours to several months. Constantly increased levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) or nitric oxide (NO) have been observed in adapted cells and both factors may play a role in the maintenance process. Although adaptive response seems to function by an on/off principle, it is a phenomenon showing a high degree of inter- and intraindividual variability. It remains to be seen to what extent adaptive response is functional in humans at relevant dose and dose-rate exposures. A better understanding of adaptive response and other non-targeted effects is needed before they can be confirmed as risk estimate factors for the human population at low levels of ionising radiation.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Radiation Protection and HealthFederal Office for Radiation ProtectionNeuherbergGermany
  2. 2.GSF National Research Center for Environment and HealthInstitute for Radiation ProtectionNeuherbergGermany
  3. 3.Klinikum rechts der Isar, TU MünchenMünchenGermany

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