Age at exposure is a critical factor that influences the risk of radiation-induced leukemia. Accumulating evidence suggests that ionizing radiation can induce genomic instability and promote leukemogenesis in hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs); however, the influence of age on this phenomenon has not been elucidated. In this study, infant (1-week-old) or adult (14-week-old) C3H/He mice received sham or 4 Gy whole-body irradiation, and bone marrow cells were transplanted to recipients at day 1 or 60 postirradiation. Twelve days after bone marrow transplant, we analyzed the radiation-induced genomic instability by scoring the frequency of DNA damage and micronucleus formation in colony-forming units-spleen (CFU-Ss). We observed significant increases in DNA damage and micronucleus formation in CFU-Ss of the 4 Gy irradiated adult cells transplanted at day 1 or 60 postirradiation. However, the frequency of DNA damage focus and micronucleus formation in CFU-Ss of 4 Gy irradiated infant cells transplanted at day 1 or 60 postirradiation was relatively decreased. Quantitative differences in the reactive oxygen species and cells expressing inducible nitric oxide synthase in CFU-Ss suggested that age-dependent radiation-induced genomic instability may result from chronic oxidative stress by pro-inflammatory states in HSC descendants after radiation exposure.
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