Astronauts receive exposures to high-energy heavy ions from galactic cosmic radiation. Although high-energy heavy ions are mutagenic and carcinogenic, their mutagenic potency in epithelial cells, where most human cancers develop, is poorly understood. Mutations are a critical component of human cancer, and mutations involving autosomal loci predominate. This study addresses the cytotoxic and mutagenic effects of 1 GeV/nucleon iron ions in mouse kidney epithelium. Mutant fractions were measured for an endogenous autosomal locus (Aprt) that detects all types of mutagenic events contributing to human cancer. Results for kidneys irradiated in situ are compared with results for kidney cells from the same strain exposed in vitro. The results demonstrate dose-dependent cell killing in vitro and for cells explanted 3-4 months postirradiation in situ, but in situ exposures were less likely to result in cell death than in vitro exposures. Prolonged incubation in situ (8-9 months) further attenuated cell killing at lower doses. Iron ions were mutagenic to cells in vitro and for irradiated kidneys. No sparing was seen for mutant frequency with a long incubation period in situ. In addition, the degree of mutation induction (relative increase over background) was similar for cells exposed in vitro or in situ. We speculate that the latent effects of iron-ion exposure contribute to the maintenance of an elevated mutation burden in an epithelial tissue.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging