Ionizing radiation (IR) is a major source of cellular damage and the immediate cellular response to IR has been well characterized. But the long-term impact of IR on cell function and its relationship with aging are not known. Here, we examined the IR effects on telomere length and other biomarkers 50 to 68 years post-exposure (two time points per person) in survivors of the atomic bombing at Hiroshima during WWII. We found that telomere length of leukocytes was inversely correlated with the dose of IR (p=0.008), and this effect was primarily found in survivors who wereexposed at younger ages; specifically those <12 years old (p=0.0004). Although a dose-related retardation of telomere shortening with age was observed in the crosssectional data, longitudinal follow-up after 11 years did not show IR exposure-related alteration of the rate of telomere shortening with age. In addition, IR diminished the associations between telomere length and selected aging biomarkers that were observed in survivors with no dose. These included uric acid metabolism, cytokines, and blood T cell counts. These findings showed long-lasting detrimental effects of IR on telomere length of leukocytes in both dose- and age-at-exposure dependent manner, and on alterations of biomarkers with aging.
- Ionizing radiation
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