Triage biodosimetry using centromeric/telomeric PNA probes and Giemsa staining to score dicentrics or excess fragments in non-stimulated lymphocyte prematurely condensed chromosomes

Mutat Res Genet Toxicol Environ Mutagen. 2015 Nov;793:107-14. doi: 10.1016/j.mrgentox.2015.06.013. Epub 2015 Jun 25.


The frequency of dicentric chromosomes in human peripheral blood lymphocytes at metaphase is considered as the "gold-standard" method for biological dosimetry and, presently, it is the most widely used for dose assessment. Yet, it needs lymphocyte stimulation and a 2-day culture, failing the requirement of rapid dose estimation, which is a high priority in radiation emergency medicine and triage biodosimetry. In the present work, we assess the applicability of cell fusion mediated premature chromosome condensation (PCC) methodology, which enables the analysis of radiation-induced chromosomal aberrations directly in non-stimulated G0-lymphocytes, without the 2-day culture delay. Despite its advantages, quantification of an exposure by means of the PCC-method is not currently widely used, mainly because Giemsa-staining of interphase G0-lymphocyte chromosomes facilitates the analysis of fragments and rings, but not of dicentrics. To overcome this shortcoming, the PCC-method is combined with fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), using simultaneously centromeric/telomeric peptide nucleic acid (PNA)-probes. This new approach enables an accurate analysis of dicentric and centric ring chromosomes, which are formed within 8h post irradiation and will, therefore, be present in the blood sample by the time it arrives for dose estimation. For triage biodosimetry, a dose response curve for up to 10Gy was constructed and compared to that obtained using conventional metaphase analysis with Giemsa or centromeric/telomeric PNA-probes in metaphase. Since FISH is labor intensive, a simple PCC-method scoring Giemsa-stained fragments in excess of 46 was also assessed as an even more rapid approach for triage biodosimetry. First, we studied the rejoining kinetics of fragments and constructed a dose-response curve for 24h repair time. Then, its applicability was assessed for four different doses and compared with the PCC-method using centromeric/telomeric PNA-probes, through the evaluation of speed of analysis and minimum number of cells required for dose estimation and categorization of exposed individuals.

Keywords: Cell fusion; Centromere/telomere staining; Excess PCC fragments; PNA-FISH; Premature chromosome condensation; Triage biodosimetry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Azure Stains
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Centromere / genetics*
  • Chromosome Aberrations*
  • DNA Probes / genetics
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Lymphocytes / cytology
  • Lymphocytes / radiation effects*
  • Peptide Nucleic Acids / genetics*
  • Radiometry / methods*
  • Resting Phase, Cell Cycle
  • Telomere / genetics
  • Triage / methods


  • Azure Stains
  • DNA Probes
  • Peptide Nucleic Acids