Effect of CT scan protocols on x-ray-induced DNA double-strand breaks in blood lymphocytes of patients undergoing coronary CT angiography

Eur Radiol. 2010 Dec;20(12):2917-24. doi: 10.1007/s00330-010-1873-9. Epub 2010 Jul 13.


Aims: To compare in vivo DNA lesions induced during helical and sequential coronary computed tomography angiography (CTA) and to evaluate the effect of CT parameters on double-strand break (DSB) levels.

Methods: Thirty-six patients were examined with various CT protocols and modes (helical scan, n = 27; sequential scan, n = 9) either using a 64-slice dual-source or a 128-slice CT system. Blood samples were obtained before and 30 min after CT. Lymphocytes were isolated, stained against the phosphorylated histone variant γ-H2AX, and DSBs were visualised by using fluorescence microscopy.

Results: DSB yields 30 min after CTA ranged from 0.04 to 0.71 per cell and showed a significant correlation to DLP (ρ = 0.81, p < 0.00001). Median DSB yield and median DLP were significantly lower after sequential compared to helical CT examinations (0.11 vs. 0.37 DSBs/cell and 249 vs. 958 mGy cm, p < 0.00001). Additional calcium scoring led to an increase in DLP (p = 0.15) and DSB levels (p = 0.04). DSB levels normalised to the DLP showed a significant correlation to the attenuation of the blood (ρ = 0.53, p = 0.01) and a negative correlation to the body mass index of the patients (ρ = -0.37, p = 0.06).

Conclusion: γ-H2AX immunofluorescence microscopy allows one to determine dose-related effects on x-ray-induced DSB levels and to consider individual factors which cannot be monitored by physical dose measurements.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Assay / methods*
  • Coronary Angiography / methods*
  • DNA / radiation effects*
  • DNA Damage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • Lymphocytes / radiation effects*
  • Male
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*


  • DNA