Open Access Research

Chromosomal radiosensitivity and acute radiation side effects after radiotherapy in tumour patients - a follow-up study

Reinhard Huber1*, Herbert Braselmann1, Hans Geinitz2, Irene Jaehnert1, Adolf Baumgartner1, Reinhard Thamm2, Markus Figel3, Michael Molls2 and Horst Zitzelsberger1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Radiation Cytogenetics, HelmholtzZentrum Muenchen - German Research Center for Environmental Health, Neuherberg, Germany

2 Department of Radiation Oncology, Technische Universitaet Muenchen, Munich, Germany

3 Personal Monitoring Service, HelmholtzZentrum Muenchen - German Research Center for Environmental Health, Munich, Germany

For all author emails, please log on.

Radiation Oncology 2011, 6:32  doi:10.1186/1748-717X-6-32

Published: 7 April 2011



Radiotherapists are highly interested in optimizing doses especially for patients who tend to suffer from side effects of radiotherapy (RT). It seems to be helpful to identify radiosensitive individuals before RT.

Thus we examined aberrations in FISH painted chromosomes in in vitro irradiated blood samples of a group of patients suffering from breast cancer. In parallel, a follow-up of side effects in these patients was registered and compared to detected chromosome aberrations.


Blood samples (taken before radiotherapy) were irradiated in vitro with 3 Gy X-rays and analysed by FISH-painting to obtain aberration frequencies of first cycle metaphases for each patient. Aberration frequencies were analysed statistically to identify individuals with an elevated or reduced radiation response. Clinical data of patients have been recorded in parallel to gain knowledge on acute side effects of radiotherapy.


Eight patients with a significantly elevated or reduced aberration yield were identified by use of a t-test criterion. A comparison with clinical side effects revealed that among patients with elevated aberration yields one exhibited a higher degree of acute toxicity and two patients a premature onset of skin reaction already after a cumulative dose of only 10 Gy. A significant relationship existed between translocations in vitro and the time dependent occurrence of side effects of the skin during the therapy period.


The results suggest that translocations can be used as a test to identify individuals with a potentially elevated radiosensitivity.