Radiation and Environmental Biophysics

, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 283–293 | Cite as

Micronuclei in human peripheral blood lymphocytes exposed to mixed beams of X-rays and alpha particles

  • Elina Staaf
  • Karl Brehwens
  • Siamak Haghdoost
  • Sander Nievaart
  • Katerina Pachnerova-Brabcova
  • Joanna Czub
  • Janusz Braziewicz
  • Andrzej WojcikEmail author
Original Paper


The purpose of this study was to analyse the cytogenetic effect of exposing human peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) to a mixed beam of alpha particles and X-rays. Whole blood collected from one donor was exposed to different doses of alpha particles (241Am), X-rays and a combination of both. All exposures were carried out at 37 °C. Three independent experiments were performed. Micronuclei (MN) in binucleated PBL were scored as the endpoint. Moreover, the size of MN was measured. The results show that exposure of PBL to a mixed beam of high and low linear energy transfer radiation led to significantly higher than expected frequencies of MN. The measurement of MN size did not reveal any differences between the effect of alpha particles and mixed beam. In conclusion, a combined exposure of PBL to alpha particles and X-rays leads to a synergistic effect as measured by the frequency of MN. From the analysis of MN distributions, we conclude that the increase was due to an impaired repair of X-ray-induced DNA damage.


Micronuclei Combined exposure LET Mixed beams Alpha particles X-rays 



The study was supported by an exploratory research project from the Joint Research Centre, Institute of Energy, and by a grant from the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM).

Ethical Standards

The work was approved by the local ethical committee at the Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden (diarium number 2010/27-31/1).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Barendsen GW, Beusker TL, Vergroesen AJ, Budke L (1960) Effects of different radiations on human cells in tissue culture. II. Biological experiments. Radiat Res 13:841–849CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bennett PV, Cutter NC, Sutherland BM (2007) Split-dose exposures versus dual ion exposure in human cell neoplastic transformation. Radiat Environ Biophys 46:119–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bertsche U (1985) Micronucleus induction in mammalian cell cultures treated with ionizing radiations. Radiat Environ Biophys 24:27–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bilbao A, Prosser JS, Edwards AA, Moody JC, Lloyd DC (1989) The induction of micronuclei in human lymphocytes by in vitro irradiation with alpha particles from plutonium-239. Int J Radiat Biol 56:287–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bird RP, Zaider M, Rossi HH, Hall EJ, Marino SA, Rohrig N (1983) The sequential irradiation of mammalian cells with X rays and charged particles of high LET. Radiat Res 93:444–452CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brehwens K, Bajinskis A, Staaf E, Haghdoost S, Cederwall B, Wojcik A (2012) A new device to expose cells to changing dose rates of ionising radiation. Radiat Prot Dosimetry 148:366–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brooks AL, Newton GJ, Shyr LJ, Seiler FA, Scott BR (1990) The combined effects of alpha-particles and X-rays on cell killing and micronuclei induction in lung epithelial cells. Int J Radiat Biol 58:799–811CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Capala J, Stenstam BH, Skold K, Munck af Rosenschold P, Giusti V, Persson C, Wallin E, Brun A, Franzen L, Carlsson J, Salford L, Ceberg C, Persson B, Pellettieri L, Henriksson R (2003) Boron neutron capture therapy for glioblastoma multiforme: clinical studies in Sweden. J Neurooncol 62:135–144Google Scholar
  9. Coderre JA, Morris GM (1999) The radiation biology of boron neutron capture therapy. Radiat Res 151:1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Demizu Y, Kagawa K, Ejima Y, Nishimura H, Sasaki R, Soejima T, Yanou T, Shimizu M, Furusawa Y, Hishikawa Y, Sugimura K (2004) Cell biological basis for combination radiotherapy using heavy-ion beams and high-energy X-rays. Radiother Oncol 71:207–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Deperas-Kaminska M, Zaytseva EM, Deperas-Standylo J, Mitsyn GV, Molokanov AG, Timoshenko GN, Wojcik A (2010) Inter-chromosomal variation in aberration frequencies in human lymphocytes exposed to charged particles of LET between 0.5 and 55 keV/μm. Int J Radiat Biol 86:975–985CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Difilippo F, Papiez L, Moskvin V, Peplow D, DesRosiers C, Johnson J, Timmerman R, Randall M, Lillie R (2003) Contamination dose from photoneutron processes in bodily tissues during therapeutic radiation delivery. Med Phys 30:2849–2854CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Durand RE, Olive PL (1976) Irradiation of multi-cell spheroids with fast neutrons versus X-rays: a qualitative difference in sub-lethal damage repair capacity or kinetics. Int J Radiat Biol Relat Stud Phys Chem Med 30:589–592CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Durante M, Cucinotta FA (2008) Heavy ion carcinogenesis and human space exploration. Nat Rev Cancer 8:465–472CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Edwards AA, Lloyd DC, Purrott RJ (1979) Radiation induced chromosome aberrations and the Poisson distribution. Radiat Environ Biophys 16:89–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Edwards AA, Purrott RJ, Prosser JS, Lloyd DC (1980) The induction of chromosome aberrations in human lymphocytes by alpha-radiation. Int J Radiat Biol Relat Stud Phys Chem Med 38:83–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fenech M (2000) The in vitro micronucleus technique. Mutat Res 455:81–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Forman JD, Yudelev M, Bolton S, Tekyi-Mensah S, Maughan R (2002) Fast neutron irradiation for prostate cancer. Cancer Metastasis Rev 21:131–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Frei W (1913) Versuche über Kombination von Desinfektionsmitteln. Z Hyg 75:433–496CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Furusawa Y, Aoki M, Durante M (2002) Simultaneous exposure of mammalian cells to heavy ions and X-rays. Adv Space Res 30:877–884ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. George K, Wu H, Willingham V, Furusawa Y, Kawata T, Cucinotta FA (2001) High- and low-LET induced chromosome damage in human lymphocytes: a time-course of aberrations in metaphase and interphase. Int J Radiat Biol 77:175–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Goodhead DT (2006) Energy deposition stochastics and track structure: what about the target? Radiat Prot Dosimetry 122:3–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Goodhead DT, Thacker J, Cox R (1993) Effects of radiations of different qualities on cells: molecular mechanisms of damage and repair. Int J Radiat Biol 63:543–556CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hada M, Meador JA, Cucinotta FA, Gonda SR, Wu H (2007) Chromosome aberrations induced by dual exposure of protons and iron ions. Radiat Environ Biophys 46:125–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Higgins PD, DeLuca PM Jr, Pearson DW, Gould MN (1983) V79 survival following simultaneous or sequential irradiation by 15-MeV neutrons and 60Co photons. Radiat Res 95:45–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Higgins PD, DeLuca PM Jr, Gould MN (1984) Effect of pulsed dose in simultaneous and sequential irradiation of V-79 cells by 14.8-MeV neutrons and 60Co photons. Radiat Res 99:591–595CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hogstedt B, Karlsson A (1985) The size of micronuclei in human lymphocytes varies according to inducing agent used. Mutat Res 156:229–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Howell RM, Ferenci MS, Hertel NE, Fullerton GD, Fox T, Davis LW (2005) Measurements of secondary neutron dose from 15 MV and 18 MV IMRT. Radiat Prot Dosimetry 115:508–512CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Johannes C, Dixius A, Pust M, Hentschel R, Buraczewska I, Staaf E, Brehwens K, Haghdoost S, Nievaart S, Czub J, Braziewicz J, Wojcik A (2010) The yield of radiation-induced micronuclei in early and late-arising binucleated cells depends on radiation quality. Mutat Res 701:80–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Joiner MC, Bremner JC, Denekamp J, Maughan RL (1984) The interaction between X-rays and 3 MeV neutrons in the skin of the mouse foot. Int J Radiat Biol Relat Stud Phys Chem Med 46:625–638CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kanai T, Furusawa Y, Fukutsu K, Itsukaichi H, Eguchi-Kasai K, Ohara H (1997) Irradiation of mixed beam and design of spread-out Bragg peak for heavy-ion radiotherapy. Radiat Res 147:78–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kry SF, Salehpour M, Followill DS, Stovall M, Kuban DA, White RA, Rosen II (2005) Out-of-field photon and neutron dose equivalents from step-and-shoot intensity-modulated radiation therapy. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 62:1204–1216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lam GKY (1987) The interaction of radiations of different LET. Phys Med Biol 32:1291–1309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lee R, Nasonova E, Ritter S (2005) Chromosome aberration yields and apoptosis in human lymphocytes irradiated with Fe-ions of differing LET. Adv Space Res 35:268–275ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Loewe S (1953) The problem of synergism and antagonism of combined drugs. Arzneimittelforschung 3:285–290Google Scholar
  36. Loewe S, Muischnek H (1926) Über Kombinationswirkungen. 1. Mitteilung: Hilfsmittel der Fragestellung. Naunyn-Schmiedebergs Archiv der Experimentellen Pathologie und Pharmakologie 114:313–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. McNally NJ, de Ronde J, Hinchliffe M (1984) The effect of sequential irradiation with X-rays and fast neutrons on the survival of V79 Chinese hamster cells. Int J Radiat Biol Relat Stud Phys Chem Med 45:301–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. McNally NJ, de Ronde J, Folkard M (1988) Interaction between X-ray and alpha-particle damage in V79 cells. Int J Radiat Biol Relat Stud Phys Chem Med 53:917–920CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mill AJ, Wells J, Hall SC, Butler A (1996) Micronucleus induction in human lymphocytes: comparative effects of X rays, alpha particles, beta particles and neutrons and implications for biological dosimetry. Radiat Res 145:575–585CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Muller WU, Streffer C (1994) Micronucleus assays. In: Obe G (ed) Advances in mutagenesis research, 1st edn. Springer, Berlin, pp 1–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Murthy MS, Madhvanath U, Subrahmanyam P, Rao BS, Reddy NM (1975) Letter: synergistic effect of simultaneous exposure to 60-Co gamma rays and 210-Po alpha rays in diploid yeast. Radiat Res 63:185–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ngo FQ, Han A, Elkind MM (1977) On the repair of sub-lethal damage in V79 Chinese hamster cells resulting from irradiation with fast neutrons or fast neutrons combined with X-rays. Int J Radiat Biol Relat Stud Phys Chem Med 32:507–511CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ngo FQ, Blakely EA, Tobias CA (1981) Sequential exposures of mammalian cells to low- and high-LET radiations. I. Lethal effects following X-ray and neon-ion irradiation. Radiat Res 87:59–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Ngo FQ, Blakely EA, Tobias CA, Chang PY, Lommel L (1988) Sequential exposures of mammalian cells to low- and high-LET radiations. II. As a function of cell-cycle stages. Radiat Res 115:54–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Pachnerova Brabcova K, Ambrozova I, Spurny F (2011) Spectrometry of linear energy transfer with track-etched detectors in carbon ion beams, MONO and SOBP. Radiat Prot Dosimetry 143:440–444CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Phoenix B, Green S, Hill MA, Jones B, Mill A, Stevens DL (2009) Do the various radiations present in BNCT act synergistically? Cell survival experiments in mixed alpha-particle and gamma-ray fields. Appl Radiat Isot 67:S318–S320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Railton R, Lawson RC, Porter D (1975) Interaction of gamma-ray and neutron effects on the proliferative capacity of Chinese hamster cells. Int J Radiat Biol Relat Stud Phys Chem Med 27:75–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Raju MR, Jett JH (1974) RBE and OER variations of mixtures of plutonium alpha particles and X-rays for damage to human kidney cells (T-1). Radiat Res 60:473–481CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Ritter S, Nasonova E, Furusawa Y, Ando K (2002) Relationship between aberration yield and mitotic delay in human lymphocytes exposed to 200 MeV/u Fe-ions or X-rays. J Radiat Res (Tokyo) 43(Suppl):S175–S179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Savage JRK, Papworth DG (1991) Excogitations about the quantification of structural chromosomal aberrations. In: Obe G (ed) Advances in mutagenesis research, vol 3. Springer, New York, pp 162–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Schmid TE, Dollinger G, Beisker W, Hable V, Greubel C, Auer S, Mittag A, Tarnok A, Friedl AA, Molls M, Roper B (2010) Differences in the kinetics of gamma-H2AX fluorescence decay after exposure to low and high LET radiation. Int J Radiat Biol 86:682–691CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Simonsen LC, Wilson JW, Kim MH, Cucinotta FA (2000) Radiation exposure for human Mars exploration. Health Phys 79:515–525CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Staaf E, Brehwens K, Haghdoost K, Pachnerova-Brabcova K, Czub J, Braziewicz J, Nievaart S, Wojcik A (2012) Characterization of a setup for mixed beams exposure of cells to 241Am alpha particles and X-rays. Radiat Prot Dosimetry [Epub ahead of print]Google Scholar
  54. Steel GG, Peckham MJ (1979) Exploitable mechanisms in combined radiotherapy-chemotherapy: the concept of additivity. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 5:85–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Suzuki S (1993) Survival of Chinese hamster V79 cells after irradiation with a mixture of neutrons and 60Co gamma rays: experimental and theoretical analysis of mixed irradiation. Radiat Res 133:327–333CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Takam R, Bezak E, Marcu LG, Yeoh E (2011) Out-of-field neutron and leakage photon exposures and the associated risk of second cancers in high-energy photon radiotherapy: current status. Radiat Res 176:508–520CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Thomas P, Tracy B, Ping T, Baweja A, Wickstrom M, Sidhu N, Hiebert L (2007) Relative biological effectiveness (RBE) of alpha radiation in cultured porcine aortic endothelial cells. Int J Radiat Biol 83:171–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Wuttke K, Muller WU, Streffer C (1998) The sensitivity of the in vitro cytokinesis-blocked micronucleus assay in lymphocytes for different and combined radiation qualities. Strahlenther Onkol 174:262–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Yamada Y, Oghiso Y, Enomoto H, Ishigure N (2002) Induction of micronuclei in a rat alveolar epithelial cell line by alpha particle irradiation. Radiat Prot Dosimetry 99:219–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Yamamoto KI, Kikuchi Y (1980) A comparison of diameters of micronuclei induced by clastogens and by spindle poisons. Mutat Res 71:127–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Yasuda N, Namiki K, Honma Y, Umeshima Y, Mamuro Y, Ishii H, Benton ER (2005) Development of a high speed imaging microscope and new software for nuclear track detector analysis. Radiat Meas 40:311–315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Zhou G, Bennett PV, Cutter NC, Sutherland BM (2006) Proton-HZE-particle sequential dual-beam exposures increase anchorage-independent growth frequencies in primary human fibroblasts. Radiat Res 166:488–494CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elina Staaf
    • 1
  • Karl Brehwens
    • 1
  • Siamak Haghdoost
    • 1
  • Sander Nievaart
    • 2
  • Katerina Pachnerova-Brabcova
    • 3
    • 4
  • Joanna Czub
    • 5
  • Janusz Braziewicz
    • 5
  • Andrzej Wojcik
    • 1
    • 5
    • 6
    Email author
  1. 1.Stockholms UniversitetStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Institute for Energy-JRCPettenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Radiation DosimetryNuclear Physics Institute, AS CRPragueCzech Republic
  4. 4.Department of Nuclear Chemistry, Faculty of Nuclear Sciences and EngineeringCzech Technical UniversityPragueCzech Republic
  5. 5.Jan Kochanowski UniversityKielcePoland
  6. 6.GMT Department, Centre for Radiation Protection ResearchStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

Personalised recommendations