These articles have been researched and written by members of CHRC.
All manuscripts were scrutinised by several experts in the field before publication to ensure scientific rigour and to meet editorial standards of the scientific Journal.
A systematic review of human evidence for the intergenerational effects of exposure to ionizing radiation
To provide a synthesis of the published evidence pertaining to the intergenerational health effects of parental preconceptional exposure to ionizing radiation in humans Click here to read the lay summary
Reference: Jade Stephens, Alexander J. Moorhouse, Kai Craenen, Ewald Schroeder, Fotios Drenos & Rhona Anderson (2024) A systematic review of human evidence for the intergenerational effects of exposure to ionizing radiation, International Journal of Radiation Biology, DOI: 10.1080/09553002.2024.2306328 Click here to read the lay summary
M-FISH evaluation of chromosome aberrations to examine for historical exposure to ionising radiation due to participation at British nuclear test sites
Veterans of the British nuclear testing programme represent a population of ex-military personnel who had the potential to be exposed to ionising radiation through their participation at nuclear testing sites in the 1950s and 1960s. In the intervening years, members of this population have raised concerns about the status of their health and that of their descendants, as a consequence. Radiation dose estimates based on film badge measurements of external dose recorded at the time of the tests suggest any exposure to be limited for the majority of personnel, however, only ∼20% of personnel were monitored and no measurement for internalised exposure are on record. Here, to in-part address families concerns, we assay for chromosomal evidence of historical radiation exposure in a group of aged nuclear test (NT) veterans, using multiplex in situ hybridisation (M-FISH), for comparison with a matched group of veterans who were not present at NT sites. In total, we analysed 9379 and 7698 metaphase cells using M-FISH (24-colour karyotyping) from 48 NT and 38 control veteran samples, representing veteran servicemen from the army, Royal Airforce and Royal Navy. We observed stable and unstable simple- and complex-type chromosome aberrations in both NT and control veterans' samples, however find no significant difference in yield of any chromosome aberration type between the two cohorts. We do observe higher average frequencies of complex chromosome aberrations in a very small subset of veterans previously identified as having a higher potential for radiation exposure, which may be indicative of internalised contamination to long-lived radionuclides from radiation fallout. By utilising recently published whole genome sequence analysis data of a sub-set of the same family groups, we examined for but found no relationship between paternal chromosome aberration burden, germline mutation frequency and self-reported concerns of adverse health in family members, suggesting that the previously reported health issues by participants in this study are unlikely to be associated with historical radiation exposure. We did observe a small number of families, representing both control and NT cohorts, showing a relationship between paternal chromosome aberrations and germline mutation sub-types which should be explored in future studies. In conclusion, we find no cytogenetic evidence of historical radiation exposure in the cohort of nuclear veterans sampled here, offering reassurance that attendance at NTs sites by the veterans sampled here, was not associated with significant levels of exposure to radiation.Click here to read the lay summary
Reference: Lawrence, K. J., Scholze, M., Seixo, J., Daley, F., Al-Haddad, E., Craenen, K., Gillham, C., Rake, C., Peto, J and Rhona Anderson, R.M (l2024). M-FISH evaluation of chromosome aberrations to examine for historical exposure to ionising radiation due to participation at British nuclear test sites. Journal of Radiological Protection, volume 44 (1), 01150. Click here to read the lay summary
“Is that a coincidence?”: Exploring health perceptions and the causal attributions of physical health conditions in British nuclear test veterans.
Since the British nuclear testing programme, there have been several claims in the media and from the veterans themselves that their health (and descendants' health) has been adversely affected by ionizing radiation exposure. Many health conditions associated with ionizing radiation exposure are also age-related. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore how British nuclear test veterans, with varying health conditions, perceive their health and attribute causes to health conditions in themselves and in their family members, in the light of being an aged cohort and their previous involvement in nuclear weapons testing. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 19 British nuclear test veterans and were analysed using thematic analysis to generate broad themes describing the data. Four themes were generated: (i) Sources of health risk information over the life course, (ii) Luck, (iii) What is ‘normal’? and (iv) Experience with healthcare professionals. Health conditions perceived as not ‘normal’ considering one's age, lifestyle, and hereditary risk, or perceived as incurable, appeared more likely to be attributed to radiation exposure. Recommendations relating to transparency for authorities dealing with exposure scenarios, and subsequent genetics and epidemiological research are discussed. Healthcare professionals may benefit from understanding patients' narratives in healthcare consultations with individuals who perceive radiation exposure to have impacted on their health. Click here to read a lay summary
Reference: Collett, G., Martin, W., Young, W. R., & Anderson, R. M. (2022). “Is that a coincidence?”: Exploring health perceptions and the causal attributions of physical health conditions in British nuclear test veterans. SSM-Qualitative Research in Health, 100127.
No evidence of increased mutations in the germline of a group of British nuclear test veterans.
The potential germline effects of radiation exposure to military veterans present at British nuclear tests in Australia and the South Pacific is of considerable interest. We analyzed germline mutations in 60 families of UK military personnel comprising 30 control and 30 nuclear test veterans (NTV). Using whole-genome sequencing we studied the frequency and spectra of de novo mutations to investigate the transgenerational effect of veterans’ (potential) exposure to radiation at nuclear bomb test sites. We find no elevation in total de novo single nucleotide variants, small insertion-deletions, structural variants or clustered mutations among the offspring of nuclear test veterans compared to those of control personnel. We did observe an elevated occurrence of single base substitution mutations within mutation signature SBS16, due to a subset of NTV offspring. The relevance of this elevation to potential exposure of veteran fathers and, future health risks, require further investigation. Overall, we find no evidence of increased mutations in the germline of a group of British nuclear test veterans. ISRCTN Registry 17461668. Click here to read a lay summary
Reference: Moorhouse et al (2022). No evidence of increased mutations in the germline of a group of British nuclear test veterans.Scientific Reports. 12, 10830.https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-14999-w#citeasac6e10
British nuclear test veteran family trios for the study of genetic risk.
The risk of radiation effects in children of individuals exposed to ionising radiation remains an ongoing concern for aged veterans of the British nuclear testing programme. The genetic and cytogenetic family trio (GCFT) study is the first study to obtain blood samples from a group of British nuclear test veterans and their families for the purposes of identifying genetic alterations in offspring as a consequence of historical paternal exposure to ionising radiation. In this report, we describe the processes for recruitment and sampling, and provide a general description of the study population recruited. In total, blood samples were received from 91 (49 test and 42 control) families representing veteran servicemen from the army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. This translated to an overall response rate of 14% (49/353) for test veterans and 4% (42/992) for control veterans (excluding responders known to be ineligible). Due to the lack of dose information available, test veterans were allocated to a three-point exposure rank. Thirty (61%) test veterans were ranked in the lower group. Nineteen (39%) of the 49 test veterans were classified in the mid (5 veterans; 10%)/high (14 veterans; 29%) exposure ranks and included 12 veterans previously identified as belonging to the special groups or listed in health physics documents. An increased number of test veteran families (20%), compared with control families (5%), self-reported offspring with congenital abnormalities (p = 0.03). Whether this observation in this small group is reflective of the entire UK test veteran cohort or whether it is selection bias requires further work. The cohort described here represent an important and unique family trio grouping whose participation is enabling genetic studies, as part of the GCFT study, to be carried out. The outcomes of these studies will be published elsewhere. ISRCTN Registry: 17461668. Click here to read a lay summary
Reference: Christine Rake et al (2022). British nuclear test veteran family trios for the study of genetic risk.Journal of Radiological Protection 42(2), 021528. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1361-6498/ac6e10
Dose estimation after a mixed field exposure: Radium-223 and intensity modulated radiotherapy.
Radium-223 dichloride ([223Ra]RaCl2), a radiopharmaceutical that delivers α-particles to regions of bone metastatic disease, has been proven to improve overall survival of men with metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). mCRPC patients enrolled on the ADRRAD clinical trial are treated with a mixed field exposure comprising radium-223 (223Ra) and intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT). While absorbed dose estimation is an important step in the characterisation of wider systemic radiation risks in nuclear medicine, uncertainties remain for novel radiopharmaceuticals such as 223Ra.
Reference: I.Bastiani, S.J.McMahon, P.Turner,etal., Dose estimation after a mixed field exposure: Radium-223 and intensity modulated radiotherapy, Nuclear Medicine and Biology (2021), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nucmedbio.2021.12.002.
Exposure Worry: The Psychological Impact of Perceived Ionizing Radiation Exposure in British Nuclear Test Veterans.
Potential psychological issues faced by British nuclear test veterans have been under-researched. This study assessed the prevalence of clinically relevant anxiety in British nuclear test veterans and aimed to explore experiences of worry and the broader psychological impact of the British nuclear weapons testing programme. The Geriatric Anxiety Inventory (Short-Form) was completed by 89 British nuclear test veterans (33.7% met the criteria for clinically relevant anxiety). Nineteen veterans then participated in semi-structured interviews. Thematic analysis of the data generated three themes. The first theme highlighted how worry was relevant only in a few cases (four) generally regarding their grandchildren’s health, but the guilt in those who perceive responsibility for family health conditions also appeared to be a pertinent issue. The second theme highlighted the anger towards authorities resulting from perceived negligence and deception. The third theme highlighted the relevance of how certain life events across the life course influence the potential psychological impact. This study suggests that guilt must be considered in (potentially) exposed individuals whose family members experience health conditions, which may exacerbate distress. It also suggests the importance that authorities ensure transparency when dealing with any radiological exposure scenario to reduce the potential for anger. Click here to read a lay summary
Reference: Collett, G., Young, W.R., Martin, W. and Anderson, R. (2021) 'Exposure Worry: The Psychological Impact of Perceived Ionizing Radiation Exposure in British Nuclear Test Veterans.International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(22), 12188. https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/18/22/12188
The psychological consequences of (perceived) ionizing radiation exposure: a review on its role in radiation-induced cognitive dysfunction.
Exposure to ionizing radiation following environmental contamination (e.g., the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents), radiotherapy and diagnostics, occupational roles and space travel has been identified as a possible risk-factor for cognitive dysfunction. The deleterious effects of high doses (≥1.0 Gy) on cognitive functioning are fairly well-understood, while the consequences of low (≤0.1 Gy) and moderate doses (0.1–1.0 Gy) have been receiving more research interest over the past decade. In addition to any impact of actual exposure on cognitive functioning, the persistent psychological stress arising from perceived exposure, particularly following nuclear accidents, may itself impact cognitive functioning. In this review we offer a novel interdisciplinary stance on the cognitive impact of radiation exposure, considering psychological and epidemiological observations of different exposure scenarios such as atomic bombings, nuclear accidents, occupational and medical exposures while accounting for differences in dose, rate of exposure and exposure type. The purpose is to address the question that perceived radiation exposure - even where the actual absorbed dose is 0.0 Gy above background dose - can result in psychological stress, which could in turn lead to cognitive dysfunction. In addition, we highlight the interplay between the mechanisms of perceived exposure (i.e., stress) and actual exposure (i.e., radiation-induced cellular damage), in the generation of radiation-induced cognitive dysfunction. In all, we offer a comprehensive and objective review addressing the potential for cognitive defects in the context of low- and moderate-dose IR exposures. Click here to read a lay summary
Reference: Collett, G., Kai, C., William, Y., Mary, G. and Anderson, R. (2020) 'The psychological consequences of (perceived) ionizing radiation exposure: a review on its role in radiation-induced cognitive dysfunction.' International Journal of Radiation Biology. pp. 1 - 56. ISSN: 0955-3002
Meeting Report of the 16th International Congress of Radiation Research and the 12th International Symposium on Chromosomal Aberrations.
The Association for Radiation Research (ARR), on behalf of the International Association for Radiation Research (IARR), hosted the 16th International Congress of Radiation Research in Manchester, UK from 25th—29th August 2019. A total of 1008 delegates joined us for this 4-yearly premier radiation research event to share new research around the thematic areas of Basic Mechanisms, Translational Research, Radiotherapy and, Health Effects and Ecology. The meeting was a great success with quality presentations, in-depth workshops on defined topics and fun social events throughout. A key goal of the ARR and IARR is to promote careers of future radiation researchers and so it is of note that around a quarter of our attendees were 'scholars-in-training', all of whom contributed to the overall success of the programme as Session Chairs and with high quality presentations. The meeting venue 'Manchester Central' provided excellent facilities creating a relaxed environment for science-in-action; collaborative discussion with friends old and new. Outside, historic Manchester shone in the brilliant sunshine of an August heatwave proudly displaying itself as a modern, fun and vibrant city for all. In this Report, we focus on Theme 4 Health Effects and Ecology and, the satellite workshop International Symposium on Chromosomal Aberrations (ISCA).
Reference: Anderson, R., Williams, K., Jeggo, P., Hammond, E., West, C. and Badie, C. (2020) 'Meeting Report of the 16th International Congress of Radiation Research and the 12th International Symposium on Chromosomal Aberrations.' Journal of Radiological Protection, 40 (1). pp. 361 - 365. ISSN: 0952-4746
Meeting report on ICRR2019, the 16th International Congress on Radiation Research.
The 16th International Congress of Radiation Research (ICRR2019) was held in Manchester, UK, in August 2019. The Congress, which is held every four years, covered a wide spectrum of topics relevant for all aspects of radiation research including basic mechanisms, translational research, radiotherapy and health effects, and ecology. Here, we provide a report of the plenary and keynote talks presented at the meeting.
Reference: Williams, KJ., Hammond, EM., West, C., Anderson, RM., Badie, C. and Jeggo, PA. (2019) 'Meeting Report on ICRR2019, the 16th International Congress on Radiation Research'. International Journal of Radiation Biology, 96 (2). pp. 167 - 171. ISSN: 0955-3002
DNA Damage Processing is Perturbed in Both Proliferative and Non-Proliferative Cells of Increased Chronological Cellular Age.
p53BP1 forms discrete foci within minutes of radiation exposure, at sites of DNA double-strand breaks, which ordinarily decay to background levels within 24 h of induction. Longer lived, persisting 53BP1 foci are thought to mark unrepaired or misrepaired damage and potentially, to be associated with genomic instability. It is known that repair of DNA damage is impaired in senescent (permanently arrested) and aged cells. We examined this further by measuring the induction and persistence of 53BP1 foci in proliferating and non-proliferating mid-passage (non-aged) and late-passage (in vitro aged) normal human bronchial epithelial cells. Our results showed background levels of 53BP1 foci to be elevated in in vitro aged cultures as expected and induction of 53BP1 foci after radiation exposure to be independent of culture age or proliferative status. In terms of 53BP1 decay, more cells with persisting foci were seen in in vitro aged cultures compared to non-aged populations; furthermore, this was observed in both non-cycling (nominally senescent) cells, as well as in actively proliferating cells. In conclusion, perturbation in radiation-induced damage processing is a function of increasing chronological cellular age per se and should be considered when extrapolating experimental data for radiation risk modeling.
Reference: Sabin, R., Pucci, G. and Anderson, RM. (2019) 'DNA damage processing is perturbed in both proliferative and non-proliferative cells of increased chronological cellular age.'. Radiation Research, 19 (2). pp. 200 - 207. ISSN: 0033-7587
Cytogenetic Biomarkers of Radiation Exposure.
Biological monitoring of radiation exposure relies heavily on the quantification of chromosome aberrations such as dicentrics and reciprocal translocations in the peripheral blood lymphocytes of exposed and potentially exposed subjects. The differences in the spatial deposition of energy and the quality of damage initially induced between individual low- and high-linear energy transfer (LET) radiation tracks are known to impact dramatically on the type and complexity of chromosome aberration induced. Over the years, researchers have proposed numerous cytogenetic markers and signatures based on these differences with the aim of biologically discriminating exposure to radiation of varying qualities. Complex chromosome aberrations are a broad classification of aberration types that are known to be characteristically induced after low doses of high-LET. The mechanistic basis for complex aberration formation and the potential applicability of these complex aberration products as LET-specific biomarkers are considered.
Reference: Anderson, RM. (2019) 'Cytogenetic biomarkers of radiation exposure'. Clinical Oncology, 31 (5). pp. 311 - 318. ISSN: 1433-2981