Elevated cataract risk after radiation exposure was established soon after the discovery of X-rays in 1895. Today, increased cataract incidence amongst medical imaging practitioners and after nuclear incidents has highlighted how little is still understood about the biological responses of the lens to low dose ionizing radiation (IR). The current recommended annual exposure limits have also been challenged and therefore, it is a very important scientific and societal goal to establish the biological responses to low-dose IR.
In a study published in Open Biology, researchers show for the first time that in mice, those lens cells that provide the cell progeny for the lens to grow throughout life are very radiosensitive. These cells show specific non-linear responses to low dose IR-induced DNA damage in the lens epithelium, causing lens shape changes.
Open Biology’s Publishing Editor Buchi Okereafor met with lead author Professor Roy Quinlan to find out more about the effects and discuss the interestingly different responses detected in different regions of the lens.
The open access paper can be downloaded in full here: http://rsob.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/5/4/150011