Adaptive response of human lymphocytes to low concentrations of radioactive thymidine

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  10 Feb 1984:
Vol. 223, Issue 4636, pp. 594-597
DOI: 10.1126/science.6695170


When human lymphocytes were cultured with [3H]thymidine, which acts as a source of low-level chronic radiation, and then exposed to 150 rad of x-rays at 5, 7, 9, or 11 hours before fixation, the yield of chromatid aberrations was less than the sum of the yields of aberrations induced by [3H]thymidine and x-rays separately. Often fewer aberrations were found after exposure to radiation from both sources than were found after exposure to x-rays alone. At the same fixation times, nonradioactive thymidine did not affect the yield of x-ray-induced aberrations. The same phenomenon occurred at earlier fixation times, after exposure to 30 or 40 rad of x-rays and [3H]thymidine. This response is analogous to the adaptive response to alkylating agents whereby prior treatment with small doses for a long period reduces the damage occurring from large doses of similar agents given for a short time.