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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Alpha particles initiate biological production of superoxide anions and hydrogen peroxide in human cells.

The mechanism(s) by which high-linear energy transfer a particles, like those emitted by inhaled radon and radon daughters, cause lung cancer has not been elucidated. Conceivably, DNA damage that is induced by a particles may be mediated by the metabolic generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), in addition to direct a particle-DNA interactions and hydroxyl radical-DNA interactions. Using normal human lung fibroblasts, we investigated the hypothesis that densely ionizing alpha particles may induce the intracellular generation of superoxide (O2.-) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Ethidium bromide and 2',7'-dichlorofluorescein, fluorescent products of the membrane-permeable dyes hydroethidine and 2',7'-dichlorofluorescin diacetate, respectively, were used to monitor the intracellular production of O2.- and H2O2, respectively, by flow cytometry. Compared to sham-irradiated cells, fibroblasts that were exposed to alpha particles (0.4-19 cGy) had significant increases in intracellular O2.- production, along with concomitant increases in H2O2 production. Further analyses suggest that the plasma membrane-bound NADPH-oxidase is primarily responsible for this increased intracellular generation of ROS and that the ROS response does not require direct nuclear or cellular "hits" by the a particles. In this latter regard, we additionally report that unirradiated cells also show the ROS response when they are incubated with serum-containing culture medium that has been exposed to a particles or when they are incubated with supernatants from a-irradiated cells. Our overall results support the possibility that a particles, at least in part, may mediate their DNA-damaging effects indirectly via a ROS-related mechanism.[1]


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