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The information for the present discussion on the uncertainties associated with estimation of radiation risks and probability of disease causation was assembled for the recently published NCRP Report No. 171 on this topic. This memorandum provides a timely overview of the topic, given that quantitative uncertainty analysis is the state of the art in health risk assessment and given its potential importance to developments in radiation protection. Over the past decade the increasing volume of epidemiology data and the supporting radiobiology findings have aided in the reduction of uncertainty in the risk estimates derived. However, it is equally apparent that there remain significant uncertainties related to dose assessment, low dose and low dose-rate extrapolation approaches (e.g. the selection of an appropriate dose and dose-rate effectiveness factor), the biological effectiveness where considerations of the health effects of high-LET and lower-energy low-LET radiations are required and the transfer of risks from a population for which health effects data are available to one for which such data are not available. The impact of radiation on human health has focused in recent years on cancer, although there has been a decided increase in the data for noncancer effects together with more reliable estimates of the risk following radiation exposure, even at relatively low doses (notably for cataracts and cardiovascular disease). New approaches for the estimation of hereditary risk have been developed with the use of human data whenever feasible, although the current estimates of heritable radiation effects still are based on mouse data because of an absence of effects in human studies. Uncertainties associated with estimation of these different types of health effects are discussed in a qualitative and semi-quantitative manner as appropriate. The way forward would seem to require additional epidemiological studies, especially studies of low dose and low dose-rate occupational and perhaps environmental exposures and for exposures to x rays and high-LET radiations used in medicine. The development of models for more reliably combining the epidemiology data with experimental laboratory animal and cellular data can enhance the overall risk assessment approach by providing biologically refined data to strengthen the estimation of effects at low doses as opposed to the sole use of mathematical models of epidemiological data that are primarily driven by medium/high doses. NASA's approach to radiation protection for astronauts, although a unique occupational group, indicates the possible applicability of estimates of risk and their uncertainty in a broader context for developing recommendations on: (1) dose limits for occupational exposure and exposure of members of the public; (2) criteria to limit exposures of workers and members of the public to radon and its short-lived decay products; and (3) the dosimetric quantity (effective dose) used in radiation protection.
PURPOSE - Fluoroscopy usage during endoscopic procedures exposes the patient and operating room staff to ionizing radiation. Pooled mean fluoroscopy usage time during ureteroscopy reported from recent literature is 144 seconds per case. The purpose of this study was to evaluate radiation exposure using a minimal-use fluoroscopy protocol during ureteroscopic treatment of urinary-tract calculi and determine patient and perioperative factors associated with increased fluoroscopy time.
MATERIALS AND METHODS - A protocol was developed to access the ureter with the ureteroscope without fluoroscopy usage, and minimize radiation utilization during each portion of the case. Over a 16-month period, fluoroscopy usage and radiation dose for all cases involving retrograde ureteroscopy for a single surgeon were prospectively recorded. A chart review was performed on patient factors and intraoperative events.
RESULTS - In 162 consecutive ureteroscopic procedures for nephrolithiasis, there were 156 renal units with fluoroscopic usage data, of which total mean and median fluoroscopy time, including stent placement, was 3.3 and 2.0 seconds (0-35 seconds), respectively. Excluding fluoroscopy usage to confirm ureteral stent placement, 75% of all cases did not require any fluoroscopy time (fluoroless), and 85% required 2 seconds or less. Of the 98 renal units with radiation dosage data, the total mean and median radiation dose measured as air kerma was estimated at 1.1 and 0.6 mGy (0.0-17.5 mGy), respectively. Reasons for utilization of total fluoroscopy time more than 5 seconds included stone impaction, ureteral tortuosity or narrowing, collecting system aberrant anatomy, and difficult ureteral stent placement.
CONCLUSIONS - The reduced fluoroscopy protocol resulted in minimal fluoroscopy time and radiation exposure, significantly lower than reported in the literature. Fluoroless ureteroscopy is safe and feasible in the majority of ureteroscopic cases and lessens exposure to patients and staff.
Glaucoma is a neurodegenerative disease that results in the progressive decline and ultimate death of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). While multiple risk factors are associated with glaucoma, the mechanisms leading to onset and progression of the disease remain unknown. Molecular analysis in various glaucoma models has revealed involvement of non-neuronal cell populations, including astrocytes, Mueller glia and microglia, at early stages of glaucoma. High-dose irradiation was reported to have a significant long-term protective effect in the DBA/2J (D2) mouse model of glaucoma, although the cellular and molecular basis for this effect remains unclear. In particular, the acute effects of irradiation on specific cell populations, including non-neuronal cells, in the D2 retina and nerve have not been assessed. Here we report that irradiation induces transient reduction in proliferating microglia within the optic nerve head and glial lamina within the first week post-irradiation. This was accompanied by reduced microglial activation, with no effect on astrocyte gliosis in those regions. At later stages we confirm that early high-dose irradiation of the mouse head results in improvement of axonal structural integrity and anterograde transport function, without reduction of intraocular pressure. Thus reduced microglial activation induced by irradiation at early stages is associated with reduced optic nerve and retinal neurodegeneration in the D2 mouse model of glaucoma.
BACKGROUND - Although ionizing radiation is an established environmental risk factor for thyroid cancer, the effect of chemotherapy drugs on thyroid cancer risk remains unclear. We evaluated the chemotherapy-related risk of thyroid cancer in childhood cancer survivors and the possible joint effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
METHODS - The study included 12,547 five-year survivors of childhood cancer diagnosed during 1970 through 1986. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy information was obtained from medical records, and radiation dose was estimated to the thyroid gland. Cumulative incidence and relative risks were calculated with life-table methods and Poisson regression. Chemotherapy-related risks were evaluated separately by categories of radiation dose.
RESULTS - Histologically confirmed thyroid cancer occurred in 119 patients. Thirty years after the first childhood cancer treatment, the cumulative incidence of thyroid cancer was 1.3% (95% CI, 1.0-1.6) for females and 0.6% (0.4-0.8) for males. Among patients with thyroid radiation doses of 20 Gy or less, treatment with alkylating agents was associated with a significant 2.4-fold increased risk of thyroid cancer (95% CI, 1.3-4.5; P = 0.002). Chemotherapy risks decreased as radiation dose increased, with a significant decrease for patients treated with alkylating agents (P(trend) = 0.03). No chemotherapy-related risk was evident for thyroid radiation doses more than 20 Gy.
CONCLUSIONS - Treatments with alkylating agents increased thyroid cancer risk, but only in the radiation dose range less than 20 Gy, in which cell sparing likely predominates over cell killing.
IMPACT - Our study adds to the evidence for chemotherapy agent-specific increased risks of thyroid cancer, which to date, were mainly thought to be related to prior radiotherapy.
Cardiac computed tomographic angiography (CCTA) has evolved at an unprecedented pace over the past decade, during which time it has proven to be an accurate and effective tool for imaging of the heart in a growing list of clinical applications. However, the rapid growth in the use of CT imaging in general has prompted appropriate concerns regarding increasing medical radiation exposure to patients, particularly with regard to potential long-term risks of radiation-induced malignancy on both individual and population levels. As with all medical imaging modalities, imaging the heart with CCTA should be performed in a manner that achieves diagnostic image quality while maintaining patient radiation exposure as low as reasonably achievable (As Low As Reasonably Achievable [ALARA] principle). The goal of this article is to provide the reader with a wide-ranging review of both primary and secondary techniques that are currently available to minimize patient radiation exposure. Some of the techniques described in this article are universal, whereas others may be scanner specific. By gaining a thorough understanding of the various tools and methodologies employed for reduction of radiation exposure, the cardiac imager should be able to formulate CCTA protocols appropriate for their equipment and their clinical applications, in a manner that optimally preserves diagnostic image quality and minimizes patient radiation dose.
Previous studies have indicated that thyroid cancer risk after a first childhood malignancy is curvilinear with radiation dose, increasing at low to moderate doses and decreasing at high doses. Understanding factors that modify the radiation dose response over the entire therapeutic dose range is challenging and requires large numbers of subjects. We quantified the long-term risk of thyroid cancer associated with radiation treatment among 12,547 5-year survivors of a childhood cancer (leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, central nervous system cancer, soft tissue sarcoma, kidney cancer, bone cancer, neuroblastoma) diagnosed between 1970 and 1986 in the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study using the most current cohort follow-up to 2005. There were 119 subsequent pathologically confirmed thyroid cancer cases, and individual radiation doses to the thyroid gland were estimated for the entire cohort. This cohort study builds on the previous case-control study in this population (69 thyroid cancer cases with follow-up to 2000) by allowing the evaluation of both relative and absolute risks. Poisson regression analyses were used to calculate standardized incidence ratios (SIR), excess relative risks (ERR) and excess absolute risks (EAR) of thyroid cancer associated with radiation dose. Other factors such as sex, type of first cancer, attained age, age at exposure to radiation, time since exposure to radiation, and chemotherapy (yes/no) were assessed for their effect on the linear and exponential quadratic terms describing the dose-response relationship. Similar to the previous analysis, thyroid cancer risk increased linearly with radiation dose up to approximately 20 Gy, where the relative risk peaked at 14.6-fold (95% CI, 6.8-31.5). At thyroid radiation doses >20 Gy, a downturn in the dose-response relationship was observed. The ERR model that best fit the data was linear-exponential quadratic. We found that age at exposure modified the ERR linear dose term (higher radiation risk with younger age) (P < 0.001) and that sex (higher radiation risk among females) (P = 0.008) and time since exposure (higher radiation risk with longer time) (P < 0.001) modified the EAR linear dose term. None of these factors modified the exponential quadratic (high dose) term. Sex, age at exposure and time since exposure were found to be significant modifiers of the radiation-related risk of thyroid cancer and as such are important factors to account for in clinical follow-up and thyroid cancer risk estimation among childhood cancer survivors.
Radiation related effects in children and adults limit the delivery of effective radiation doses and result in long-term morbidity affecting function and quality of life. Improvements in our understanding of the etiology and biology of these effects, including the influence of clinical variables, dosimetric factors, and the underlying biological processes have made treatment safer and more efficacious. However, the approach to studying and understanding these effects differs between children and adults. Using the pulmonary and skeletal organ systems as examples, comparisons are made across the age spectrum for radiation related effects, including pneumonitis, pulmonary fibrosis, osteonecrosis, and fracture. Methods for dosimetric analysis, incorporation of imaging and biology as well a length of follow-up are compared, contrasted, and discussed for both organ systems in children and adults. Better understanding of each age specific approach and how it differs may improve our ability to study late effects of radiation across the ages.
Radiotherapy represents the most effective nonsurgical treatments for gliomas. However, gliomas are highly radioresistant and recurrence is nearly universal. Results from our laboratory and other groups suggest that cancer stem cells contribute to radioresistance in gliomas and breast cancers. The Notch pathway is critically implicated in stem cell fate determination and cancer. In this study, we show that inhibition of Notch pathway with gamma-secretase inhibitors (GSIs) renders the glioma stem cells more sensitive to radiation at clinically relevant doses. GSIs enhance radiation-induced cell death and impair clonogenic survival of glioma stem cells but not non-stem glioma cells. Expression of the constitutively active intracellular domains of Notch1 or Notch2 protect glioma stem cells against radiation. Notch inhibition with GSIs does not alter the DNA damage response of glioma stem cells after radiation but rather reduces Akt activity and Mcl-1 levels. Finally, knockdown of Notch1 or Notch2 sensitizes glioma stem cells to radiation and impairs xenograft tumor formation. Taken together, our results suggest a critical role of Notch signaling to regulate radioresistance of glioma stem cells. Inhibition of Notch signaling holds promise to improve the efficiency of current radiotherapy in glioma treatment.
The response to radiation of polymer gel dosimeters has most often been described by measuring the nuclear magnetic resonance transverse relaxation rate as a function of dose. This approach is highly dependent upon the choice of experimental parameters, such as the echo spacing time for Carr-Purcell-Meiboom-Gill-type pulse sequences, and is difficult to optimize in imaging applications where a range of doses are applied to a single gel, as is typical for practical uses of polymer gel dosimetry. Moreover, errors in computing dose can arise when there are substantial variations in the radiofrequency (B1) field or resonant frequency, as may occur for large samples. Here we consider the advantages of using magnetization transfer imaging as an alternative approach and propose the use of a simplified quantity, the magnetization transfer proportion (MTP), to assess doses. This measure can be estimated through two simple acquisitions and is more robust in the presence of some sources of system imperfections. It also has a dependence upon experimental parameters that is independent of dose, allowing simultaneous optimization at all dose levels. The MTP is shown to be less susceptible to B1 errors than are CPMG measurements of R2. The dose response can be optimized through appropriate choices of the power and offset frequency of the pulses used in magnetization transfer imaging.
G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) play important roles in controlling neurotransmitter and hormone release. Inhibition of voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels (Ca(2+) channels) by G protein betagamma subunits (Gbetagamma) is one prominent mechanism, but there is evidence for additional effects distinct from those on calcium entry. However, relatively few studies have investigated the Ca(2+)-channel-independent effects of Gbetagamma on transmitter release, so the impact of this mechanism remains unclear. We used carbon fiber amperometry to analyze catecholamine release from individual vesicles in bovine adrenal chromaffin cells, a widely used neurosecretory model. To bypass the effects of Gbetagamma on Ca(2+) entry, we stimulated secretion using ionomycin (a Ca(2+) ionophore) or direct intracellular application of Ca(2+) through a patch pipette. Activation of endogenous GPCR or transient transfection with exogenous Gbetagamma significantly reduced the number of amperometric spikes (the number of vesicular fusion events). The charge ("quantal size") and amplitude of the amperometric spikes were also significantly reduced by GPCR/Gbetagamma. We conclude that independent from effects on calcium entry, Gbetagamma can regulate both the number of vesicles that undergo exocytosis and the amount of catecholamine released per fusion event. We discuss possible mechanisms by which Gbetagamma might exert these novel effects including interaction with the soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor (SNARE) complex.