Individual response to ionizing radiation

Mutat Res Rev Mutat Res. 2016 Oct-Dec;770(Pt B):369-386. doi: 10.1016/j.mrrev.2016.09.001. Epub 2016 Sep 4.


The human response to ionizing radiation (IR) varies among individuals. The first evidence of the individual response to IR was reported in the beginning of the 20th century. Considering nearly one century of observations, we here propose three aspects of individual IR response: radiosensitivity for early or late adverse tissue events after radiotherapy on normal tissues (non-cancer effects attributable to cell death); radiosusceptibility for IR-induced cancers; and radiodegeneration for non-cancer effects that are often attributable to mechanisms other than cell death (e.g., cataracts and circulatory disease). All the molecular and cellular mechanisms behind IR-induced individual effects are not fully elucidated. However, some specific assays may help their quantification according to the dose and to the genetic status. Accumulated data on individual factors have suggested that the individual IR response cannot be ignored and raises some clinical and societal issues. The individual IR response therefore needs to be taken into account to better evaluate the risks related to IR exposure.

Keywords: Individual radiodegeneration; Individual radioresponse; Individual radiosensitivity; Individual radiosusceptibility.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chromosome Aberrations
  • DNA Damage
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Radiation, Ionizing*