A cytogenetic study of hospital workers occupationally exposed to radionuclides in Serbia: premature centromere division as novel biomarker of exposure?

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2016 Apr;89(3):477-84. doi: 10.1007/s00420-015-1086-2. Epub 2015 Sep 15.


Purpose: The health risk of chronic exposure to radionuclides includes changes in the genome (e.g., chromosomal aberrations and micronuclei) that increase chromosomal instability. There are also other phenomena, which seem to appear more frequently in metaphases of exposed persons (such as premature centromere division). The aim of this study was to discover whether or not there is correlation between incidence of named cytogenetic changes in persons occupationally exposed to radionuclides in comparison with unexposed control group, and if significant correlation is determined, can premature centromere division be consider as a biomarker of radiation exposure?

Methods: The exposed group comprised 50 individuals occupationally exposed to radionuclides. The reference control group consisted of 40 unexposed individuals. Chromosomal aberrations, micronuclei and premature centromere division were analyzed according to a standard International Atomic Energy Agency protocol. Statistical analyses were performed using SPSS 17.0 statistics.

Results: The means for analyzed cytogenetic changes were significantly higher in the exposed group. Positive correlation between them was found in exposed group. Premature centromere division parameter PCD5-10 was selected as particularly suitable for separating groups (exposed/unexposed).

Conclusions: Identification of other phenomena related to radionuclide exposure, beside well known, may clarify recent problems in radiobiology concerning the biological response to low doses of ionizing radiation and its consequences.

Keywords: Chromosomal aberrations; Micronuclei; Premature centromere division; Radionuclides.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Centromere / radiation effects*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Female
  • Genetic Markers / radiation effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Micronuclei, Chromosome-Defective / radiation effects*
  • Micronucleus Tests
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Personnel, Hospital*
  • Radiation Injuries / etiology
  • Radiation Injuries / genetics
  • Radiation, Ionizing
  • Radioisotopes / adverse effects*
  • Serbia


  • Genetic Markers
  • Radioisotopes