Lee, T-K., Allison, R. R., O'Brien, K. F., Naves, J. L., Karlsson, U. L. and Wiley, A. L., Jr. Persistence of Micronuclei in Lymphocytes of Cancer Patients after Radiotherapy. Radiat. Res. 157, 678–684 (2002).
To verify the applicability of the micronucleus (MN) yield in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) as a quantitative biodosimeter for monitoring in vivo ionizing radiation damage, we applied the cytokinesis-blocked micronucleus assay in PBLs of cancer patients treated with partial-body radiotherapy. Dosimetric information on these 13 patients represented a wide range in the number of fractions, cumulative tumor dose, total integral dose, and equivalent total-body absorbed dose. We found in PBLs of these patients that (1) the MN yield increased linearly with the equivalent total-body absorbed dose (r = 0.8, P = 0.002), (2) the distributions of the MN yields deviated significantly from Poisson, and (3) there was a general decline in MN yields with increasing length of follow-up, but with considerable variation between individuals. The average rate of decline was found to be linear and was correlated with the equivalent total-body absorbed dose (r = 0.7, P = 0.007). Further, at 19–75 months of follow-up time, seven patients showed higher MN yields than their respective levels before radiotherapy, indicating the persistence of radiation-induced residual cytogenetic damage. Our findings suggest that the MN yield in human PBLs offers a reliable acute and perhaps chronic biodosimeter for in vivo radiation dose estimation. After the completion of radiotherapy, the persistence of elevated MN yield in PBLs is a reflection of the surviving population of radiation-induced genetically aberrant cells.