Frequency of chromosome aberrations detected by conventional cytogenetics is a very useful parameter in biological radiodosimetry. It can be used for estimating absorbed doses in individuals working with radioactive sources and individuals accidentally exposed to radiation. In the first case subjects wear physical dosimeters as a routine safety habit. Our laboratory at the Institute of Radioprotection and Dosimetry (IRD, Brazil) has been using conventional cytogenetic analysis to complement data obtained by physical dosimetry since 1983. Until now, we have investigated more than one hundred cases where individual physical dosimeters detected occupational exposure (above the safety limits allowed). In total, only 34% of these cases were confirmed by conventional cytogenetic dosimetry. We have also used conventional cytogenetic analysis following the radiation accident of Goiania (Brazil) in 1987. Peripheral lymphocytes from 129 exposed or potentially exposed individuals were analyzed for the frequencies of unstable chromosomal aberrations (dicentrics, centric rings and acentrics fragments) to estimate absorbed radiation doses. During the emergency period, doses were estimated to help immediate medical treatment using in vitro calibration curves produced before the accident. Later on, doses were assessed once more using new in vitro calibration curves. A drawback of this technique is that unstable aberrations are lost after exposure. To investigate the mean lifespan of lymphocytes containing dicentric and ring aberrations, we have followed 15 victims of the Goiania accident over all these years. Results suggest that the disappearance of unstable aberrations is dose-dependent. This could explain the variation in the results found among studies in this field.
Mutation Research/Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis 09/1998; 404(1-2):97-100. DOI:10.1016/S0027-5107(98)00099-2 · 4.44 Impact Factor