Radiotoxicity of inhaled (239)PuO(2) in dogs

Radiat Res. 2008 Dec;170(6):736-57. doi: 10.1667/RR1409.1.


Beagle dogs inhaled graded exposure levels of insoluble plutonium dioxide ((239)PuO(2)) aerosols in one of three monodisperse particle sizes at the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute (LRRI) to study the life-span health effects of different degrees of alpha-particle dose non-uniformity in the lung. The primary noncarcinogenic effects seen were lymphopenia, atrophy and fibrosis of the thoracic lymph nodes, and radiation pneumonitis and pulmonary fibrosis. Radiation pneumonitis/ pulmonary fibrosis occurred from 105 days to more than 11 years after exposure, with the lowest associated alpha-particle dose being 5.9 Gy. The primary carcinogenic effects also occurred almost exclusively in the lung because of the short range of the alpha-particle emissions. The earliest lung cancer was observed at 1086 days after the inhalation exposure. The most common type seen was papillary adenocarcinoma followed by bronchioloalveolar carcinoma. These lung cancer results indicate that a more uniform distribution of alpha-particle dose within the lung has an equal or possibly greater risk of neoplasia than less uniform distributions of alpha-particle dose. The results are consistent with a linear relationship between dose and response, but these data do not directly address the response expected at low dose levels. No primary tumors were found in the tracheobronchial and mediastinal lymph nodes despite the high alpha-particle radiation doses to these lymph nodes, and no cases of leukemia were observed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Absorption
  • Animals
  • Dogs
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Female
  • Hematology
  • Inhalation Exposure*
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Male
  • Particle Size
  • Plutonium / administration & dosage
  • Plutonium / chemistry
  • Plutonium / pharmacokinetics
  • Plutonium / toxicity*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / etiology
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Radiation Pneumonitis / etiology
  • Radiometry
  • Risk Assessment
  • Tissue Distribution


  • plutonium dioxide
  • Plutonium