Analysis of genomic instability in the offspring of fathers exposed to low doses of ionizing radiation

Environ Mol Mutagen. 2011 Aug;52(7):538-46. doi: 10.1002/em.20655. Epub 2011 Apr 28.


Transgenerational genomic instability was studied in nonirradiated children born from fathers who were irradiated with low doses of ionizing radiation while working as clean-up workers at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (liquidators) and nonirradiated mothers from nuclear families. Aberrant cell frequencies (ACFs), chromosomal type aberration frequencies, and chromatid break frequencies (CBFs) in the lymphocytes of fathers-liquidators, and their children were significantly higher when compared with the control group (P < 0.05). Individual ACFs, aberration frequencies, and CBFs were independent of the time between irradiation of the father and conception of the child (1 month to 18 years). Chromosomes were categorized into seven groups (A through G). Analysis of aberrant chromosomes within these groups showed no differences in the average frequency of aberrant chromosomes between children and fathers-liquidators. However, significant differences were observed in the average frequency of aberrant chromosomes in groups A, B, and C between children and mothers in the families of liquidators. These results suggest that low doses of radiation induce genomic instability in fathers. Moreover, low radiation doses might be responsible for individual peculiarities in transgenerational genomic instability in children (as a consequence of response to primary DNA damage). Thus, genomic instability may contribute to increased morbidity over the lifetime of these children.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Chernobyl Nuclear Accident
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chromosome Aberrations / radiation effects
  • Genomic Instability / radiation effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Paternal Exposure*
  • Radiation, Ionizing*