The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FNPP) accident, the largest nuclear incident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, occurred when the plant was hit by a tsunami triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. The subsequent uncontrolled release of radioactive substances resulted in massive evacuations in a 20-km zone. To better understand the biological consequences of the FNPP accident, we have been measuring DNA damage levels in cattle in the evacuation zone. DNA damage was evaluated by assessing the levels of DNA double-strand breaks in peripheral blood lymphocytes by immunocytofluorescence-based quantification of γ-H2AX foci. A greater than two-fold increase in the fraction of damaged lymphocytes was observed in all animal cohorts within the evacuation zone, and the levels of DNA damage decreased slightly over the 700-day sample collection period. While the extent of damage appeared to be independent of the distance from the accident site and the estimated radiation dose from radiocesium, we observed age-dependent accumulation of DNA damage. Thus, this study, which was the first to evaluate the biological impact of the FNPP accident utilizing the γ-H2AX assays, indicated the causal relation between high levels of DNA damage in animals living in the evacuation zone and the FNPP accident.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging