The "pro-drug" RibCys decreases the mutagenicity of high-LET radiation in cultured mammalian cells

Radiat Res. 2003 Nov;160(5):579-83. doi: 10.1667/3065.


We are carrying out studies aimed at reducing the mutagenic effects of high-LET 56Fe ions and 12C ions (56Fe ions, 143 keV/microm; 12C ions, 100 keV/microm) with certain drugs, including RibCys [2-(R,S)-D-ribo-(1',2',3',4'-tetrahydroxybutyl)-thiazolidine-4(R)-carboxylic acid]. RibCys, formed by condensation of L-cysteine with D-ribose, is designed so that the sulfhydryl amino acid L-cysteine is released intracellularly through nonenzymatic ring opening and hydrolysis leading to increased levels of glutathione (GSH). RibCys (4 or 10 mM), which was present during irradiation and for a few hours after, significantly decreased the yield of CD59- mutants induced by radiation in AL human-hamster hybrid cells. RibCys did not affect the clonogenic survival of irradiated cells, nor was it mutagenic itself. These results, together with the minimal side effects reported in mice and pigs, indicate that RibCys may be useful, perhaps even when used prophylactically, in reducing the mutation load created by high-LET radiation in astronauts or other exposed individuals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CHO Cells
  • Carbon Radioisotopes*
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / radiation effects
  • Cricetinae
  • Cricetulus
  • Cysteine / analogs & derivatives
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Humans
  • Hybrid Cells / cytology
  • Hybrid Cells / drug effects
  • Hybrid Cells / radiation effects
  • Iron Radioisotopes*
  • Linear Energy Transfer*
  • Lymphocytes / cytology
  • Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • Lymphocytes / radiation effects
  • Mutation / drug effects*
  • Prodrugs / pharmacology
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Radiation Tolerance / drug effects*
  • Radiation-Protective Agents / pharmacology
  • Thiazoles / pharmacology*
  • Thiazolidines


  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Iron Radioisotopes
  • Prodrugs
  • Radiation-Protective Agents
  • Thiazoles
  • Thiazolidines
  • 2-(1',2',3',4'-tetrahydroxybutyl)thiazolidine-4-carboxylic acid
  • Cysteine