Enhanced radiation damage caused by iodinated contrast agents during CT examination

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Objective To access the effect of iodinate contrast agent (ICA) on DNA double-stand breaks (DSBs) in human peripheral blood lymphocytes during computed tomography (CT) examinations. Materials and methods This present study was approved by the institutional ethics committee; written informed patient consent was obtained from 70 patients. A total of 48 patients underwent computed tomography urography (CTU), in which only one time CT scanning was examined after injecting ICA, and 22 patients received unenhanced whole abdominal CT, among them 10 patients were selected to get ICA injection immediately after irradiation. Blood samples were taken from all patients prior to and immediately after CT scan, as well as 8 min after the injection of ICA. The lymphocytes in these blood samples were separated by using density-gradient centrifugation, fixed and immunostained with γH2AX antibody. The average number of phosphorylated histone H2AX (γH2AX) foci per lymphocyte was counted under a fluorescence microscopy. Differences in the number of γH2AX-foci were statistically analyzed using independent sample t test and one way ANOVA. Result The three patient groups had no significant differences in the baseline foci numbers(P > 0.05). The γH2AX-focus levels increased in both groups after CT scan. Patients who underwent CTU examinations had a greater DSBs level (mean ± standard error of mean, 0.945 ± 0.184 foci per cell) than those who received unenhanced whole abdominal CT scan (mean ± standard error of mean, 0.700 ± 0.112 foci per cell), increasing by about 37.9%; The ICA injected before CT scan itself had an effect on the DSBs, which increased DSBs level by approximately 90.3% (0.059 ± 0.018 v s 0.031 ± 0.025, P < 0.05), but no significant difference was found if added after irradiation, increasing DSBs level only by 3.2% approximately (0.711 ± 0.091 v s 0.689 ± 0.108, P = 0.499). Conclusion The iodinated contrast agent itself can lead to an increase in the level of DSBs as assessed with γH2AX foci formation, and the application of ICA can amplify DNA damage induced by diagnostic x-ray procedures such as whole abdominal CT.




Wang, L., Li, Q., Wang, X. M., Hao, G. Y., Jie-Bao, Hu, S., & Hu, C. H. (2017). Enhanced radiation damage caused by iodinated contrast agents during CT examination. European Journal of Radiology, 92, 72–77. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejrad.2017.04.005

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