Oxidative DNA damage and cytogenetic effects in flight engineers exposed to cosmic radiation.

I.H. Zwingmann, I.J. Welle, M.H.M. van Herwijnen, J.J.M. Engelen, P.A.E.L. Schilderman-Houba, T. Smid, J.C.S. Kleinjans*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Department of Health Risk Analysis and Toxicology, Maastricht University, The Netherlands.j.kleinjans@GRAT.unimaas.nl

This study set out to analyze biomarkers for genotoxic events, e.g., oxidative DNA damage, chromosomal damage and hprt mutations, among flight personnel, who are known to be occupationally exposed to ionizing radiation of cosmic origin. Twenty-three flight engineers were recruited while ground personnel served as a matched control group. Cumulative radiation doses during flight were calculated on the basis of subjects' flight records assuming an exposure rate of 6 microSv per hour of flight. Oxidative DNA damage in peripheral lymphocytes from flight engineers appeared significantly increased in comparison with controls and was associated with cumulative exposure to cosmic radiation. Frequencies of peripheral lymphocyte chromosome aberrations, micronuclei and hprt mutations appeared also to be increased in flight engineers, but not significantly. It was also observed that DNA damage was higher in flight engineers with a relatively shorter flight history in comparison with flight engineers with higher cumulative exposures to radiation, suggesting adaptation to DNA damage caused by ionizing radiation. DNA repair activities measured as unscheduled DNA synthesis were clearly increased in the higher-exposed subgroup of flight engineers, and appeared significantly correlated with cumulative radiation dose, as well as inversely with oxidative DNA damage. The implications for cancer risk assessment in relation to exposure to cosmic radiation are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-129
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental and Molecular Mutagenesis
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1998

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