Human exposure to high-energy protons occurs in space flight scenarios or, where necessary, during radiotherapy for cancer or benign conditions. However, few studies have assessed the mutagenic effectiveness of high-energy protons, which may contribute to cancer risk. Mutations cause cancer and most cancer-associated mutations occur at autosomal loci. This study addresses the cytotoxic and mutagenic effects of 1 GeV protons in mouse kidney epithelium. Mutant fractions were measured for an endogenous autosomal locus (Aprt) that detects all types of mutagenic events. Results for kidneys irradiated in vivo are compared with the 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 vivo. Incubation in vivo for longer periods (8-9 months) further attenuates proton-induced cell killing. Protons are mutagenic to cells in vitro and for in vivo irradiated kidneys. The dose-response for Aprt mutation is curvilinear after in vitro or in vivo exposure, bending upward at the higher doses. While the absolute mutant fractions are higher in vivo, the fold-increase over background is similar for both in vitro and in situ exposures. Results are also presented for a limited study on the effect of dose fractionation on the induction of Aprt mutations in kidney epithelial cells. Dose-fractionation reduces the fraction of proton-induced Aprt mutants in vitro and in vivo and also results in less cell killing. Taken together, the mutation burden in the epithelium is slightly reduced by dose-fractionation. Autosomal mutations accumulated during clinical exposure to high-energy protons may contribute to the risk of treatment-associated neoplasms, thereby highlighting the need for rigorous treatment planning to reduce the dose to normal tissues. For low dose exposures that occur during most space flight scenarios, the mutagenic effects of protons appear to be modest.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging