Is there a common mechanism underlying genomic instability, bystander effects and other nontargeted effects of exposure to ionizing radiation?

William F Morgan
Oncogene 2003 October 13, 22 (45): 7094-9
A number of nontargeted and delayed effects associated with radiation exposure have now been described. These include radiation-induced genomic instability, death-inducing and bystander effects, clastogenic factors and transgenerational effects. It is unlikely that these nontargeted effects are directly induced by cellular irradiation. Instead, it is proposed that some as yet to be identified secreted factor can be produced by irradiated cells that can stimulate effects in nonirradiated cells (death-inducing and bystander effects, clastogenic factors) and perpetuate genomic instability in the clonally expanded progeny of an irradiated cell. The proposed factor must be soluble and capable of being transported between cells by cell-to-cell gap junction communication channels. Furthermore, it must have the potential to stimulate cellular cytokines and/or reactive oxygen species. While it is difficult to imagine a role for such a secreted factor in contributing to transgenerational effects, the other nontargeted effects of radiation may all share a common mechanism.

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