, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 557-563
Date: 04 May 2008

Biomarkers for human radiation exposure

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There is a concern over the potential use of radioactive isotopes as a weapon of terror. The detonation of a radiation dispersal device, the so-called “dirty bomb” can lead to public panic. In order to estimate risks associated with radiation exposure, it is important to understand the biological effects of radiation exposure. Based on this knowledge, biomarkers to monitor potentially exposed populations after a radiological accident can be developed and would be extremely valuable for emergency response. While the traditional radiation exposure biomarkers based on cytogenetic assays serve as standard, the development of rapid and noninvasive tests for radiation exposure is needed. The genomics based knowledge is providing new avenues for investigation. The examination of gene expression after ionizing radiation exposure could serve as a potential molecular marker for biodosimetry. Microarray based studies are identifying new radiation responsive genes that could potentially be used as biomarkers of human exposure to radiation after an accident.