Chronic exposure of adult, postnatal and in utero rat models to low-dose 137Cesium: impact on circulating biomarkers

J Radiat Res. 2016 Nov;57(6):607-619. doi: 10.1093/jrr/rrw067. Epub 2016 Jul 27.


The presence of 137Cesium (137Cs) in the environment after nuclear accidents at Chernobyl and more recently Fukushima Daiichi raises many health issues for the surrounding populations chronically exposed through the food chain. To mimic different exposure situations, we set up a male rat model of exposure by chronic ingestion of a 137Cs concentration likely to be ingested daily by residents of contaminated areas (6500 Bq.l-1) and tested contaminations lasting 9 months for adult, neonatal and fetal rats. We tested plasma and serum biochemistry to identify disturbances in general indicators (lipids, proteins, carbohydrates and electrolytes) and in biomarkers of thyroid, heart, brain, bone, kidney, liver and testis functions. Analysis of the general indicators showed increased levels of cholesterol (+26%), HDL cholesterol (+31%), phospholipids B (+15%) and phosphorus (+100%) in the postnatal group only. Thyroid, heart, brain, bone and kidney functions showed no blood changes in any model. The liver function evaluation showed changes in total bilirubin (+67%) and alkaline phosphatase (-11%) levels, but only for the rats exposed to 137Cs intake in adulthood. Large changes in 17β-estradiol (-69%) and corticosterone (+36%) levels affected steroidogenesis, but only in the adult model. This study showed that response profiles differed according to age at exposure: lipid metabolism was most radiosensitive in the postnatal model, and steroid hormone metabolism was most radiosensitive in rats exposed in adulthood. There was no evidence of deleterious effects suggesting a potential impact on fertility or procreation.

Keywords: 137Cesium; biomarkers; chronic ingestion; low-dose.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cesium Radioisotopes / adverse effects*
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Eating
  • Female
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Phospholipids / blood
  • Phosphorus / blood
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Animal
  • Radioactive Hazard Release
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Steroids / blood
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Biomarkers
  • Cesium Radioisotopes
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Lipids
  • Phospholipids
  • Steroids
  • Phosphorus