We report a large-scale reduced expression of genes in pathways related to cell-type specific immunity functions that emerges from microarray analysis 48 h after ex vivo γ-ray irradiation (0, 0.5, 2, 5, 8 Gy) of human peripheral blood from five donors. This response is similar to that seen in patients at 24 h after the start of total-body irradiation and strengthens the rationale for the ex vivo model as an adjunct to human in vivo studies. The most marked response was in genes associated with natural killer (NK) cell immune functions, reflecting a relative loss of NK cells from the population. T- and B-cell mediated immunity genes were also significantly represented in the radiation response. Combined with our previous studies, a single gene expression signature was able to predict radiation dose range with 97% accuracy at times from 6–48 h after exposure. Gene expression signatures that may report on the loss or functional deactivation of blood cell subpopulations after radiation exposure may be particularly useful both for triage biodosimetry and for monitoring the effect of radiation mitigating treatments.
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Vol. 180 • No. 6