, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 27-37,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 18 Sep 2009

Spontaneous and radiation-induced chromosomal instability and persistence of chromosome aberrations after radiotherapy in lymphocytes from prostate cancer patients


The aim of the study was to compare the spontaneous and ex vivo radiation-induced chromosomal damage in lymphocytes of untreated prostate cancer patients and age-matched healthy donors, and to evaluate the chromosomal damage, induced by radiotherapy, and its persistence. Blood samples from 102 prostate cancer patients were obtained before radiotherapy to investigate the excess acentric fragments and dicentric chromosomes. In addition, in a subgroup of ten patients, simple exchanges in chromosomes 2 and 4 were evaluated by fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH), before the onset of therapy, in the middle and at the end of therapy, and 1 year later. Data were compared to blood samples from ten age-matched healthy donors. We found that spontaneous yields of acentric chromosome fragments and simple exchanges were significantly increased in lymphocytes of patients before onset of therapy, indicating chromosomal instability in these patients. Ex vivo radiation-induced aberrations were not significantly increased, indicating proficient repair of radiation-induced DNA double-strand breaks in lymphocytes of these patients. As expected, the yields of dicentric and acentric chromosomes, and the partial yields of simple exchanges, were increased after the onset of therapy. Surprisingly, yields after 1 year were comparable to those directly after radiotherapy, indicating persistence of chromosomal instability over this time. Our results indicate that prostate cancer patients are characterized by increased spontaneous chromosomal instability. This instability seems to result from defects other than a deficient repair of radiation-induced DNA double-strand breaks. Radiotherapy-induced chromosomal damage persists 1 year after treatment.