Genome reduction in a hemiclonal frog Rana esculenta from radioactively contaminated areas.
A decrease in genome size was found in the hemiclonal hybridogenetic frog Rana esculenta (R. ridibunda x R. lessonae) from areas of radioactive contamination that resulted from the Chernobyl fallout. This genome reduction was of up to 4% and correlated with the background level of gamma-radiation (linear regression corresponded on average to -0.4% per doubling of radiation level). No change in genome size was observed in the coexisting parental species R. lessonae. There was no correlation between genome size and body mass in R. esculenta froglets, which have metamorphosed in the year of the study. The hemiclonal forms may become a suitable object for study on biological significance of individual DNA sequences (and of genome size as a whole) because mutant animals with deletions in a specified genome can arise after a low radiation dose. The proneness to genetic damage makes such forms also a prospective bioindicator of radioactive (and possibly other mutagenic) pollution with the effects of genetic damage conveniently and rapidly monitored by DNA flow cytometry. (+info
A comparison of the reproductive physiology of largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides, collected from the Escambia and Blackwater Rivers in Florida.
Largemouth bass (LMB), Micropterus salmoides, were taken from the Escambia River (contaminated site) and the Blackwater River (reference site) near Pensacola, Florida. The Escambia River collection occurred downstream of the effluent from two identified point sources of pollution. These point sources included a coal-fired electric power plant and a chemical company. Conversely, the Blackwater River's headwaters and most of its length flow within a state park. Although there is some development on the lower part of the Blackwater River, fish were collected in the more pristine upper regions. Fish were captured by electroshocking and were maintained in aerated coolers. Physical measurements were obtained, blood was taken, and liver and gonads were removed. LMB plasma was assayed for the concentration of 17ss-estradiol (E2) and testosterone using validated radioimmunoassays. The presence of vitellogenin was determined by gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and Western blotting using a monoclonal antibody validated for largemouth bass vitellogenin. No differences in plasma concentrations of E2 or testosterone were observed in females from the two sites. Similarly, males exhibited no difference in plasma E2. However, plasma testosterone was lower in the males from the contaminated site, as compared to the reference site. Vitellogenic males occurred only at the contaminated site. Additionally, liver mass was proportionately higher in males from the contaminated site, as compared to males from the reference site. These data suggest that reproductive steroid levels may have been altered by increased hepatic enzyme activity, and the presence of vitellogenic males indicates that an exogenous source of estrogen was present in the Escambia River. (+info
Prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia and apoptosis in benign prostatic hyperplasia before and after the Chernobyl accident in Ukraine.
The prevalence of prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN) in men who underwent surgery for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) before and after the Chernobyl nuclear accident was studied. BPH samples were obtained by adenomectomy from 45 patients operated in 1984 before the accident (Group I), and 47 patients from the low contaminated Kiev City (Group II) and 76 from high contaminated area (Group III) operated between 1996 and 1998. Their BPH samples were examined histologically and immunohistochemically. The incidences of prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN) and high grade PIN (HGPIN) were 15.5 and 11.1% in Group I, 29.8 and 14.9% in Grpoup II, and 35. 5 and 19.7% in Group III. The difference between the incidences of PIN in Group I and III is significant (p<0.02). There was increased apoptosis in areas of PIN in Group II and III as compared to Group I (p<0.001). Since apoptosis has been shown to be associated with ionizing radiation and it is now found to be associated with PIN in patients diagnosed after the Chernobyl nuclear accident, this suggests that long-term low dose internal ionizing radiation potentially may cause prostate cancer. (+info
Juvenile hypothyroidism among two populations exposed to radioiodine.
We found an epidemic of juvenile hypothyroidism among a population of self-defined "downwinders" living near the Hanford nuclear facility located in southeast Washington State. The episode followed massive releases of 131I. Self-reported data on 60 cases of juvenile hypothyroidism (<20 years of age) among a group of 801 Hanford downwinders are presented, as well as data concerning the thyroid status of approximately 160,000 children exposed to radioiodine before 10 years of age as a result of the 26 April 1986 Chernobyl explosion in the former Soviet Union. These children were residents of five regions near Chernobyl. They were examined by standardized screening protocols over a period of 5 years from 1991 to 1996. They are a well-defined group of 10 samples. Fifty-six cases of hypothyroidism were found among boys and 92 among girls. Body burdens of 137Cs have been correlated with hypothyroidism prevalence rates. On the other hand, the group of juvenile (<20 years of age) Hanford downwinders is not a representative sample. Most of the 77 cases of juvenile hypothyroidism in the Hanford group were diagnosed from 1945 to 1970. However, the ratio of reported cases to the county population under 20 years of age is roughly correlated with officially estimated mean levels of cumulative thyroid 131I uptake in these counties, providing evidence that juvenile hypothyroidism was associated with radioiodine exposures. Because even subtle hypothyroidism may be of clinical significance in childhood and can be treated, it may be useful to screen for the condition in populations exposed to radioiodine fallout. Although radiation exposure is associated with hypothyroidism, its excess among fallout-exposed children has not been previously quantified. (+info
Carotenoids, sexual signals and immune function in barn swallows from Chernobyl.
Carotenoids have been hypothesized to facilitate immune function and act as free-radical scavengers, thereby minimizing the frequency of mutations. Populations of animals exposed to higher levels of free radicals are thus expected to demonstrate reduced sexual coloration if use of carotenoids for free-radical scavenging is traded against use for sexual signals. The intensity of carotenoid-based sexual coloration was compared among three populations of barn swallows Hirundo rustica differing in exposure to radioactive contamination. Lymphocyte and immunoglobulin concentrations were depressed, whereas the heterophil:lymphocyte ratio, an index of stress, was enhanced in Chernobyl swallows compared to controls. Spleen size was reduced in Chernobyl compared to that of two control populations. Sexual coloration varied significantly among populations, with the size of a secondary sexual character (the length of the outermost tail feathers) being positively related to coloration in the two control populations, but not in the Chernobyl population. Thus the positive covariation between coloration and sexual signalling disappeared in the population subject to intense radioactive contamination. These findings suggest that the reliable signalling function of secondary sexual characters breaks down under extreme environmental conditions, no longer providing reliable information about the health status of males. (+info
Radiation and mortality of workers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory: positive associations for doses received at older ages.
We examined associations between low-level exposure to ionizing radiation and mortality among 14,095 workers hired at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory between 1943 and 1972. Workers at the facility were individually monitored for external exposure to ionizing radiation and have been followed through 1990 to ascertain cause of death information. Positive associations were observed between low-level exposure to external ionizing radiation and mortality. These associations were larger for doses received after 45 years of age, larger under longer lag assumptions, and primarily due to cancer causes of death. All cancer mortality was estimated to increase 4.98% [standard error (SE) = 1.5] per 10-mSv cumulative dose received after age 45 under a 10-year lag, and 7.31% (SE = 2.2) per 10-mSv cumulative dose received after age 45 under a 20-year lag. Associations between radiation dose and lung cancer were of similar magnitude to associations between radiation dose and all cancers except lung cancer. Nonmalignant respiratory disease exhibited a positive association with cumulative radiation dose received after age 45, whereas ischemic heart disease exhibited no association with radiation dose. These findings suggest increases in cancer mortality associated with low-level external exposure to ionizing radiation and potentially greater sensitivity to the carcinogenic effects of ionizing radiation with older ages at exposure. (+info
Childhood exposure due to the Chernobyl accident and thyroid cancer risk in contaminated areas of Belarus and Russia.
The thyroid dose due to 131I releases during the Chernobyl accident was reconstructed for children and adolescents in two cities and 2122 settlements in Belarus, and in one city and 607 settlements in the Bryansk district of the Russian Federation. In this area, which covers the two high contamination spots in the two countries following the accident, data on thyroid cancer incidence during the period 1991-1995 were analysed in the light of possible increased thyroid surveillance. Two methods of risk analysis were applied: Poisson regression with results for the single settlements and Monte Carlo (MC) calculations for results in larger areas or sub-populations. Best estimates of both methods agreed well. Poisson regression estimates of 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were considerably smaller than the MC results, which allow for extra-Poisson uncertainties due to reconstructed doses and the background thyroid cancer incidence. The excess absolute risk per unit thyroid dose (EARPD) for the birth cohort 1971-1985 by the MC analysis was 2.1 (95% CI 1.0-4.5) cases per 10(4) person-year Gy. The point estimate is lower by a factor of two than that observed in a pooled study of thyroid cancer risk after external exposures. The excess relative risk per unit thyroid dose was 23 (95% CI 8.6-82) Gy(-1). No significant differences between countries or cities and rural areas were found. In the lowest dose group of the settlements with an average thyroid dose of 0.05 Gy the risk was statistically significantly elevated. Dependencies of risks on age-at-exposure and on gender are consistent with findings after external exposures. (+info
The transcription coactivator HTIF1 and a related protein are fused to the RET receptor tyrosine kinase in childhood papillary thyroid carcinomas.
Children exposed to radioactive iodine as a consequence of the Chernobyl reactor accident have an increased risk of papillary thyroid carcinomas (PTC). The predominant molecular lesions in these tumors are rearrangements of the RET receptor tyrosine kinase (tk). Here we report on two novel types of RET rearrangement, PTC6 and 7, and describe the fusion products and the ret fused gene (rfg) proteins. Like the other rfg proteins identified so far they are ubiquitously expressed, not membrane-bound and contain coiled coil domains required for constitutive activation of the ret tk domain. In the PTC6 rearrangement the ret tk domain is fused to the aminoterminal part of the human transcription intermediary factor htif 1. In the PTC7 rearrangement the ret tk domain is fused to a novel protein that is strongly related to htif1. Like htif1 it contains a RBCC motif (ring finger, B boxes, coiled coil domain) located in the aminoterminal part and a phd finger and a bromodomain in the carboxyterminal part. Htif1 and related proteins are transcription coactivators for nuclear receptors, thus participating in controlling cellular development, differentiation and homeostasis. This is the first report on their involvement in human thyroid carcinogenesis. (+info