Cell Biology and Toxicology

, Volume 26, Issue 5, pp 403–419 | Cite as

Cytogenetic biomonitoring of inhabitants of a large uranium mineralization area: the municipalities of Monte Alegre, Prainha, and Alenquer, in the State of Pará, Brazil

  • Adriana Costa Guimarães
  • Lusânia Maria Greggi Antunes
  • Helem Ferreira Ribeiro
  • Ândrea Kelly Ribeiro dos Santos
  • Plínio Cerqueira dos Santos Cardoso
  • Patrícia Lima de Lima
  • Aline Damasceno Seabra
  • Thaís Brilhante Pontes
  • Claudia Pessoa
  • Manoel Odorico de Moraes
  • Bruno Coelho Cavalcanti
  • Carla Maria Lima Sombra
  • Marcelo de Oliveira Bahia
  • Rommel Rodríguez Burbano


Uranium is a natural radioactive metallic element; its effect on the organism is cumulative, and chronic exposure to this element can induce carcinogenesis. Three cities of the Amazon region—Monte Alegre, Prainha, and Alenquer—in North Brazil, are located in one of the largest uranium mineralization areas of the world. Radon is a radioactive gas, part of uranium decay series and readily diffuses through rock. In Monte Alegre, most of the houses are built of rocks removed from the Earth’s crust in the forest, where the uranium reserves lie. The objective of the present work is to determine the presence or absence of genotoxicity and risk of carcinogenesis induced by natural exposure to uranium and radon in the populations of these three cities. The frequency of micronuclei (MN) and chromosomal aberrations (CA) showed no statistically significant differences between the control population and the three study populations (P > 0.05). MN was also analyzed using the fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) technique, with a centromere-specific probe. No clastogenic and/or aneugenic effects were found in the populations. Using FISH analysis, other carcinogenesis biomarkers were analyzed, but neither the presence of the IGH/BCL2 translocation nor an amplification of the MYC gene and 22q21 region was detected. Clastogenicity and DNA damage were also not found in the populations analyzed using the alkaline comet assay. The mitotic index showed no cytotoxicity in the analyzed individuals’ lymphocytes. Once we do not have data concerning radiation doses from other sources, such as cosmic rays, potassium, thorium, or anthropogenic sources, it is hard to determine if uranium emissions in this geographic region where our study population lives are too low to cause significant DNA damage. Regardless, genetic analyses suggest that the radiation in our study area is not high enough to induce DNA alterations or to interfere with mitotic apparatus formation. It is also possible that damages caused by radiation doses undergo cellular repair.


Populational biomonitoring Uranium Genotoxicity Carcinogenesis 



Depleted uranium


Chromosomal aberrations




Fluorescence in situ hybridization


Acute lymphoblastic leukemia


Mitotic index



This work was supported by Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), Process 409826/206-5. R. R. Burbano has a PQ-2 fellowship (number 308256/2006-9) granted by CNPq. We would like to thank Dr. Vicente de Paula Melo for the access to his master’s thesis.

Conflicts of interest

There is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adriana Costa Guimarães
    • 1
  • Lusânia Maria Greggi Antunes
    • 3
  • Helem Ferreira Ribeiro
    • 1
  • Ândrea Kelly Ribeiro dos Santos
    • 1
  • Plínio Cerqueira dos Santos Cardoso
    • 1
  • Patrícia Lima de Lima
    • 1
  • Aline Damasceno Seabra
    • 1
  • Thaís Brilhante Pontes
    • 1
  • Claudia Pessoa
    • 2
  • Manoel Odorico de Moraes
    • 2
  • Bruno Coelho Cavalcanti
    • 2
  • Carla Maria Lima Sombra
    • 2
  • Marcelo de Oliveira Bahia
    • 1
  • Rommel Rodríguez Burbano
    • 4
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Biological SciencesFederal University of ParáBelémBrazil
  2. 2.Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, School of MedicineFederal University of CearáFortalezaBrazil
  3. 3.Department of Clinical, Toxicological, and Bromatological Analysis, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Ribeirão PretoUniversity of São PauloRibeirão PretoBrazil
  4. 4.Laboratório de Citogenética Humana, ICBUniversidade Federal do Pará, Campus Universitário do GuamáBelémBrazil

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