Purpose: To characterize the cellular functions associated with the altered transcript profiles of mouse brain exposed to low-dose in vivo gamma-irradiation.
Materials and methods: Cerebral RNA was isolated at 30 min and 4 h after whole-body irradiation at 0.1 or 2 Gy, hybridized to random oligonucleotide arrays, and evaluated for time and dose-response patterns by multifactorial analyses.
Results: Brain irradiation modulated the expression patterns of 1574 genes, of which 855 showed more than 1.5-fold variation. about 30% of genes showed dose-dependent variations, including genes exclusively affected by 0.1 Gy. About 60% of genes showed time-dependent variation with more genes affected at 30 min than at 4 h. Early changes involved signal transduction, ion regulation and synaptic signalling. Later changes involved metabolic functions including myelin and protein synthesis. Low-dose radiation also modulated the expression of genes involved in stress response, cell-cycle control and DNA synthesis/repair.
Conclusions: Doses of 0.1 Gy induced changes in gene expression that were qualitatively different from those at 2 Gy. The findings suggest that low-dose irradiation of the brain induces the expression of genes involved in protective and reparative functions, while down-modulating genes involved in neural signalling activity.