Research Papers: Gerotarget (Focus on Aging):

Long term effects of radiation exposure on telomere lengths of leukocytes and its associated biomarkers among atomic-bomb survivors

Ana Lustig _, Ivo Shterev, Susan Geyer, Alvin Shi, Yiqun Hu, Yukari Morishita, Hiroko Nagamura, Keiko Sasaki, Mayumi Maki, Ikue Hayashi, Kyoji Furukawa, Kengo Yoshida, Junko Kajimura, Seishi Kyoizumi, Yoichiro Kusunoki, Waka Ohishi, Kei Nakachi, Nan-ping Weng and Tomonori Hayashi

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:38988-38998. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.8801

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Ana Lustig1, Ivo Shterev2, Susan Geyer3, Alvin Shi1, Yiqun Hu4, Yukari Morishita4, Hiroko Nagamura4, Keiko Sasaki4, Mayumi Maki4, Ikue Hayashi5, Kyoji Furukawa6, Kengo Yoshida4, Junko Kajimura4, Seishi Kyoizumi4, Yoichiro Kusunoki4, Waka Ohishi7, Kei Nakachi4, Nan-ping Weng1 and Tomonori Hayashi4

1 Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Immunology, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

2 Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA

3 Health Informatics Institute, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA

4 Department of Radiobiology/Molecular Epidemiology, Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF), Hiroshima, Japan

5 Central Research Laboratory, Hiroshima University Faculty of Dentistry, Hiroshima, Japan

6 Department of Statistics, RERF, Hiroshima, Japan

7 Department of Clinical Studies, RERF, Hiroshima, Japan

Correspondence to:

Tomonori Hayashi, email:

Nan-ping Weng, email:

Keywords: ionizing radiation, telomeres, leukocytes, aging, Hiroshima, Gerotarget

Received: March 04, 2016 Accepted: April 13, 2016 Published: April 19, 2016


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 were exposed 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 cross-sectional 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.

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