Analyses of cancer incidence and other morbidities in gamma irradiated B6CF1 mice

Alia Zander, Tatjana Paunesku, Gayle E. Woloschak*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


With increasing medical radiation exposures, it is important to understand how different modes of delivery of ionizing radiation as well as total doses of exposure impact health outcomes. Our lab studied the risks associated with ionizing radiation by analyzing the Northwestern University Radiation Archive for animals (NURA). NURA contains detailed data from a series of 10 individual neutron and gamma irradiation experiments conducted on over 50,000 mice. Rigorous statistical testing on control mice from all Janus experiments enabled us to select studies that could be compared to one another and uncover unexpected differences among the controls as well as experimental animals. For controls, mice sham irradiated with 300 fractions died significantly earlier than those with fewer sham fractions and were excluded from the pooled dataset. Using the integrated dataset of gamma irradiated and control mice, we found that fractionation significantly decreased the death hazard for animals dying of lymphomas, tumors, non-tumors, and unknown causes. Gender differences in frequencies of causes of death were identified irrespective of irradiation and dose fractionation, with female mice being at a greater risk for all causes of death, except for lung tumors. Irradiated and control male mice were at a significantly greater risk for lung tumors, the opposite from observations noted in humans. Additionally, we discovered that lymphoma deaths can occur quickly after exposures to high doses of gamma rays. This study systematically cross-compared outcomes of different modes of fractionation evaluated across different Janus experiments and across a wide span of total doses. It demonstrates that protraction modulated survival and disease status differently based on the total dose, cause of death, and sex of an animal. This novel method for analyzing the Janus datasets will lead to insightful new mechanistic hypotheses and research in the fields of radiation biology and protection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0231510
JournalPloS one
Issue number8 August
StatePublished - Aug 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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