Low sensitivity of the sister chromatid exchange assay to detect the genotoxic effects of radioiodine therapy

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

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11 Citations (Scopus)


To assess the genotoxic risk associated with 131I therapy, sister chromatid exchanges (SCEs) and cells with unusually high SCE counts (HFC) were determined in a follow-up study performed with 46 hyperthyroidism and 39 thyroid cancer patients treated with 131I. In addition, a crosssectional study was also carried out with 78 control persons and 51 thyroid cancer patients that had completed radioiodine therapy from 1 to 6 years prior to the current investigation. In the follow-up analysis, the study was conducted over time and four blood samples were drawn from each patient: the first one prior to the radioiodine treatment, with the remaining three taken sequentially over the year after therapy. Concerning the results obtained for the whole population in the follow-up study, the SCE and HFC values found after radioiodine therapy did not show any significant increase, neither in the hyperthyroidism nor thyroid cancer groups. Unlike the results mentioned above, when the effect of smoking habit was considered, there was a slight but significant increase in SCE in the samples taken 3 months and 1 week after 131I therapy in the hyperthyroidism and thyroid cancer non-smokers, respectively. The data obtained in the cross-sectional study did not show differences in SCE and HFC between the control group and the cancer group treated with 131I. It is noteworthy that among the different parameters analysed, smoking habit is the only factor that showed a direct relationship with SCE and HFC and, as a consequence, smokers had significantly more SCE and HFC than nonsmokers. Taking into account our previous investigations showing a highly significant increase in the frequency of micronuclei for the same patients and sampling times, the outcomes obtained would suggest that the eventual genotoxic effect of 131I therapy could not be dearly detected by the SCE assay. This would reinforce the view that ionizing radiation appears to be a poor inducer of SCEs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-226
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 1999


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