Dose Fractionation During Puberty Is More Detrimental to Mammary Gland Development Than an Equivalent Acute Dose of Radiation Exposure

Brandi Wiedmeyer, Jennifer To, Deepa M. Sridharan, Lung Chang Chien, Antoine M. Snijders, Hidetoshi Mori, Janice M. Pluth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Computed tomographic (CT) scans in adolescents have increased dramatically in recent years. However, the effects of cumulative low-dose exposures on the development of radiation sensitive organs, such as the mammary gland, is unknown. The purpose of this work was to define the effects of dose rate on mammary organ formation during puberty, an especially sensitive window in mammary development. We used a fractionated low-dose x-ray exposure to mimic multiple higher dose CT scans, and we hypothesized that fractionated exposure would have less of an effect on the number of mammary gland defects compared with an acute exposure. Methods and Materials: Female mice were subjected to fractionated low-dose x-ray exposure (10 cGy/d for 5 days), acute x-ray exposure (1 × 50 cGy), or sham exposure. As the wide genetic diversity in humans can play a role in a person's response to irradiation, 2 genetically diverse mouse strains differing in radiation sensitivity (BALB/c-sensitive; C57BL/6-resistant) were used to investigate the role of genetic background on the magnitude of the effect. Results: Unexpectedly, our data reveal that multiple low-dose exposures produce greater immune and mammary defects for weeks after exposure compared with controls. The most pronounced defects being increased ductal branching in both strains and a greater percentage of terminal end buds in the BALB/c strain of mice exposed to fractionated radiation compared with sham. Radiation-induced defects near the terminal end bud were also increased in both strains. Conclusions: The findings suggest that fractionated low-dose exposures are potentially more damaging to organ development compared with an equivalent, single acute exposure and that genetic background is an important parameter modifying the severity of these effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1521-1532
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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