We present time and dose dependencies for the formation of 53BP1 and γH2AX DNA damage repair foci after chronic radiation exposure at dose rates of 140, 250 and 450 mGy/day from 3 to 96 h, in human and mouse repair proficient and ATM or DNA-PK deficient repair compromised cell models. We describe the time/dose-response curves using a mathematical equation which contains a linear component for the induction of DNA damage repair foci after irradiation, and an exponential component for their resolution. We show that under conditions of chronic irradiation at low and medium dose rates, the processes of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) induction and repair establish an equilibrium, which in repair proficient cells manifests as a plateau-shaped dose-response where the plateau is reached within the first 24 h postirradiation, and its height is proportionate to the radiation dose rate. In contrast, in repair compromised cells, where the rate of repair may be exceeded by the DSB induction rate, DNA damage accumulates with time of exposure and total absorbed dose. In addition, we discuss the biological meaning of the observed dependencies by presenting the frequency of micronuclei formation under the same irradiation conditions as a marker of radiation-induced genomic instability. We believe that the data and analysis presented here shed light on the kinetics of DNA repair under chronic radiation and are useful for future studies in the low-to-medium dose rate range.
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Vol. 197 • No. 4