Functional Assays for Individual Radiosensitivity: A Critical Review

Semin Radiat Oncol. 2017 Oct;27(4):310-315. doi: 10.1016/j.semradonc.2017.04.003.


A complete understanding of the mechanisms of the response to radiation would help in a better evaluation of the radiation-induced risks. To this aim, individual radiosensitivity, that is, the proneness to radiation-induced tissue reactions attributable to cell death, has been documented since the beginning of the 20th century. For several decades, developing informative predictive assays has been one of the most important challenges of radiobiologists. This article is a critical review devoted to the major functional assays to predict radiosensitivity and their strengths and weaknesses, notably those based on the quantification of clonogenic cell survival, micronuclei, p21 expression, apoptosis, chromosome and DNA repair, and signaling. Genomic approaches of radiosensitivity are reviewed in another article of this issue.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Death*
  • Cell Survival*
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21 / metabolism
  • DNA Repair
  • Humans
  • Micronucleus Tests
  • Radiation Tolerance / genetics*


  • CDKN1A protein, human
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21