Animal studies of charged particle-induced carcinogenesis

Helle Bielefeldt-Ohmann, Paula C. Genik, Christina M. Fallgren, Robert L. Ullrich, Michael M. Weil

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The distribution of energy deposition in cells and tissues by high-charge, high-energy (HZE) nuclei differs considerably from that of low linear energy transfer (LET) radiation, raising concerns that charged particle exposure may be more efficient in inducing radiogenic cancers or may induce a different spectrum of tumors. The authors have performed a review of charged particle carcinogenesis in animals with the following observations. A limited number of animal studies with carcinogenesis endpoints have been performed to evaluate the effectiveness of HZE ions. These include the induction of skin and mammary tumors in the rat and Harderian gland tumors, acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and hepatocellular carcinomas in the mouse. In general, high relative biological effectiveness (RBE) has been reported for solid tumor induction. RBE dependence on HZE radiation quality has been most extensively characterized in studies of mouse Harderian gland tumorigenesis. In this model, the RBE increases with LET and plateaus in the 193-953 keV μm range. Unlike the results of solid tumor studies, a leukemogenesis study found 1 GeV nucleonFe ions no more efficient than gamma-rays for AML induction. No novel tumor types have been observed in HZE irradiated animals as compared with those that occur spontaneously or following low-LET radiation exposures. Genetic background of the irradiated animals is critical; the tumor types induced in HZE irradiated mice depend on their strain background, and the incidence of HZE ion-induced mammary carcinogenesis in the rat is also strain dependent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)568-576
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements
  • carcinogenesis
  • exposure
  • laboratory animals
  • radiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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