Follow-up studies on genome damage in children after Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident

Abstract

As children are more susceptible to ionizing radiation than adults, each nuclear accident demands special attention and care of this vulnerable population. The Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurred in a region populated with a large number of children, but despite all efforts and expertise of nuclear specialists, it was not possible to avoid casualties. As vast regions of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia were exposed to doses of ionizing radiation, which are known to be related with different diseases, shortly after the accident medical surveillance was launched, which also included analysis of genome damage. Child population affected by internal and external radiation consisted of subjects exposed prenatally, postnatally (both evacuated and non-evacuated), born by irradiated fathers who worked as liquidators, and parents exposed environmentally. In all groups of children during the last 30 years who were exposed to doses which were significantly higher than that recommended for general population of 1 mSv per year, increased genome damage was detected. Increased genome damage includes statistically higher frequency of dicentric and ring chromosomes, chromated and chromosome breaks, acentric fragments, translocations, and micronuclei. The presence of rogue cells confirmed internal contamination. Genome instability and radiosensitivity in children was detected both in evacuated and continuously exposed children. Today the population exposed to ionizing radiation in 1986 is in reproductive period of life and follow-up of this population and their offspring is of great importance. This review aims to give insight in results of studies, which reported genome damage in children in journals without language restrictions.

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Acknowledgments

Preparation of manuscript is funded by State task No. 2162 of Russian Federation and within the scope of Croatian Centre of Excellence for Reproductive and Regenerative medicine (Unit of Biomedical Research of Reproduction and Development.

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Correspondence to Aleksandra Fucic.

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Fucic, A., Aghajanyan, A., Druzhinin, V. et al. Follow-up studies on genome damage in children after Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident. Arch Toxicol 90, 2147–2159 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00204-016-1766-z

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Keywords

  • Chernobyl
  • Genome damage
  • Children
  • Ionizing radiation