Cytogenetic damage after 131-iodine treatment for hyperthyroidism and thyroid cancer: A study using the micronucleus test

Sara Gutiérrez, Elisabet Carbonell, Pere Galofré, Amadeu Creus, Ricardo Marcos

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To detect the incidence and persistence of potential chromosome damage induced by iodine-131 therapy, we applied the cytokinesis-block micronucleus assay to peripheral blood lymphocytes from hyperthyroidism and thyroid cancer patients treated with 131I. Two groups of patients were evaluated in a longitudinal study; one group was composed of 47 hyperthyroid patients and the other of 39 thyroid cancer patients. In the hyperthyroidism group, the micronuclei frequency was determined before 131I therapy and 1 week, 1 month and 3 months after it. Furthermore, an additional sample was taken from a subgroup of 17 hyperthyroidism patients 6 months after treatment. In the thyroid cancer group, the analysis was also conducted over time, and four samples were studied: before treatment and 1 week, 6 months and 1 year later. Simultaneously, a cross-sectional study was performed with 70 control subjects and 54 thyroid cancer patients who had received the last therapeutic dose 1-6 years before the present study. In the hyperthyroidism group a significant increase in the micronuclei average was found over time. In the sample obtained 6 months after therapy, the micronuclei mean frequency was practically the same as in the sample taken 3 months before. In the thyroid cancer group a twofold increase in the frequency of micronuclei was seen 1 week after therapy. Although this value decreased across time, the micronuclei frequency obtained 1 year after 131I therapy remained higher than the value found before it. Concerning the data from the cross-sectional study, a significant increase in the frequency of micronuclei was detected in the subgroup of thyroid cancer patients treated between 1 and 3 years before the current study. These results indicate that exposure to 131I therapy induces chromosome damage in peripheral lymphocytes and that the cytokinesis- block micronucleus assay is sensitive enough to detect the genetic damage by exposure to sufficiently high levels of radiation from internal radioactive sources.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1589-1596
JournalEuropean Journal Of Nuclear Medicine
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1999


  • Chromosome damage
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Iodine-131-sodium iodide
  • Micronucleus assay
  • Thyroid cancer


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