Antioxidants Taken Orally prior to Diagnostic Radiation Exposure Can Prevent DNA Injury

J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2017 Mar;28(3):406-411. doi: 10.1016/j.jvir.2016.10.022. Epub 2016 Dec 26.


Purpose: To evaluate efficacy of oral antioxidant treatment given to patients before radiologic procedures in reducing x-ray-induced DNA damage.

Materials and methods: In a single-center prospective controlled trial, antioxidant treatment with 2 g ascorbate, 1.2 g N-acetylcysteine, 600 mg lipoic acid, and 30 mg beta carotene was given to 5 consecutive participants before undergoing clinically indicated technetium-99m methylene diphosphonate (99mTc MDP) bone scans for cancer staging. These participants were compared with 5 participants without antioxidant treatment. DNA damage was visualized in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) before and after bone scans using three-dimensional microscopy and fluorescently labeled gamma-H2AX protein. Wilcoxon rank sum test was used to determine whether there was a statistically significant difference in the radiation received between the control and antioxidant groups, the number of foci/cell before and after bone scan within groups, and foci/cell after bone scan between groups.

Results: There was a significantly higher number of gamma-H2AX foci/cell after ionization radiation in the control group compared with the antioxidant group (P = .009). There was no statistically significant difference in number of gamma-H2AX foci/cell before or after exposure in the antioxidant group; the number of gamma-H2AX foci/cell was statistically significantly higher (P = .009) in the control group after exposure to 99mTc MDP.

Conclusions: In patients undergoing 99mTc MDP bone scans, treatment with oral antioxidants before scanning significantly prevented DNA damage in PBMCs. Antioxidants may provide an effective means to protect patients and health care professionals from radiation-induced DNA damage during imaging studies.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcysteine / administration & dosage*
  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage*
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Bone Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Bone Neoplasms / secondary
  • DNA Breaks, Double-Stranded / drug effects*
  • Drug Combinations
  • Histones / blood
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / drug effects*
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / pathology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / radiation effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Ontario
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiation Injuries / blood
  • Radiation Injuries / diagnosis
  • Radiation Injuries / etiology
  • Radiation Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / adverse effects*
  • Technetium Tc 99m Medronate / adverse effects*
  • Thioctic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • beta Carotene / administration & dosage*


  • Antioxidants
  • Biomarkers
  • Drug Combinations
  • H2AX protein, human
  • Histones
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • beta Carotene
  • Thioctic Acid
  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Acetylcysteine
  • Technetium Tc 99m Medronate