Radiation and Environmental Biophysics

, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 219–224 | Cite as

Space radiation does not induce a significant increase of intrachromosomal exchanges in astronauts’ lymphocytes

  • M. Horstmann
  • M. DuranteEmail author
  • C. Johannes
  • R. Pieper
  • G. Obe
Original Paper


Chromosome aberration analysis in astronauts has been used to provide direct, biologically motivated estimates of equivalent doses and risk associated to cosmic radiation exposure during space flight. However, the past studies concentrated on measurements of dicentrics and translocations, while chromosome intrachanges (inversions) have never been measured in astronauts’ samples. Recent data reported in the literature suggest that densely ionizing radiation can induce a large fraction of intrachanges, thus leading to the suspicion that interchanges grossly underestimate the cosmic radiation-induced cytogenetic damage in astronauts. We have analyzed peripheral blood lymphocytes from 11 astronauts involved in short- or long-term space flights in low-Earth orbit using high-resolution multicolor banding to assess the frequency of intrachromosomal exchanges in both pre- and post-flight samples. We did not detect any inversions in chromosome 5 from a total of 2800 cells in astronauts’ blood. In addition, no complex type exchanges were found in a total of 3590 astronauts’ lymphocytes analyzed by multifluor fluorescence in situ hybridisation. We conclude that, within the statistical power of this study, the analysis of interchanges for biological dosimetry in astronauts does not significantly underestimate the space radiation-induced cytogenetic damage, and complex-type exchanges or intrachanges have limited practical use for biodosimetry at very low doses.


Plutonium Chromosomal Aberration International Space Station Space Flight Space Radiation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was funded by the German Space Agency (DLR) Grant 50WB0030.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Horstmann
    • 2
  • M. Durante
    • 1
    Email author
  • C. Johannes
    • 2
  • R. Pieper
    • 2
  • G. Obe
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PhysicsUniversity Federico IINapoliItaly
  2. 2.Department of GeneticsUniversity of Duisburg-EssenEssenGermany

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