In order to elucidate the involvement of metallothionein (MT) in radiation carcinogenesis, we examined the susceptibility of MT-I/II null mice to carcinogenesis and oxidative DNA damage resulting from X-irradiation. Eight-week-old female MT-I/II null mice and wild-type mice were exposed to whole-body X-irradiation at doses of 1.0, 1.5 or 2.0 Gy once a week for 6 weeks. Incidence of thymic lymphoma was determined at 24 weeks after the first exposure to X-irradiation. The frequency of thymic lymphomas induced by X-irradiation (at 1.5 and 2.0 Gy) was significantly higher in MT-I/II null mice than in wild-type mice. In addition, although the levels of 8-hydroxy-2′- deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) were increased in the serum and urine of both strains of mice 24 hr after exposure to a single bout of whole body X-irradiation, these increases were significantly greater in the MT-I/II null mice than in the wildtype mice. Thus, the present results suggest that MT plays a protective role against carcinogenesis and oxidative DNA damage caused by X-irradiation.
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