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Human Lymphocytes Exposed To Low Doses Of Ionizing Radiations Become Refractory To High Doses Of Radiation As Well As To Chemical Mutagens That Induce Double-strand Breaks In DNA.

S. Wolff, V. Afzal, J. Wiencke, G. Olivieri, A. Michaeli
Published 1988 · Biology, Medicine

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Human lymphocytes exposed to low doses of ionizing radiation from incorporated tritiated thymidine or from X-rays become less susceptible to the induction of chromatid breaks by high doses of X-rays. This response can be induced by 0.01 Gy (1 rad) of X-rays, and has been attributed to the induction of a repair mechanism that causes the restitution of X-ray-induced chromosome breaks. Because the major lesions responsible for the induction of chromosome breakage are double-strand breaks in DNA, attempts have been made to see if the repair mechanism can affect various types of clastogenic lesions induced in DNA by chemical mutagens and carcinogens. When cells exposed to 0.01 Gy of X-rays or to low doses of tritiated thymidine were subsequently challenged with high doses of tritiated thymidine or bleomycin, which can induce double-strand breaks in DNA, or mitomycin C, which can induce cross-links in DNA, approximately half as many chromatid breaks were induced as expected. When, on the other hand, the cells were challenged with the alkylating agent methyl methanesulfonate (MMS), which can produce single-strand breaks in DNA, approximately twice as much damage was found as was induced by MMS alone. The results indicate that prior exposure to 0.01 Gy of X-rays reduces the number of chromosome breaks induced by double-strand breaks, and perhaps even by cross-links, in DNA, but has the opposite effect on breaks induced by the alkylating agent MMS. The results also show that the induced repair mechanism is different from that observed in the adaptive response that follows exposure to low doses of alkylating agents.
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