FINAL REPORT U. S. Department of Energy ADVANCED COMPUTATIONAL APPROACHES TO CHARACTERIZING STOCHASTIC CELLULAR RESPONSES TO LOW-DOSE, LOW-DOSE-RATE EXPOSURES
The linear nonthreshold (LNT) model plays a central role in low-dose radiation risk assessment for humans. With the LNT model, any radiation exposure is assumed to increase one's risk of cancer. Based on the LNT model, others have predicted tens of thousands of deaths related to environmental exposure to radioactive material from nuclear accidents (e.g., Chernobyl) and fallout from nuclear weapons testing. Here, we introduce a mechanism-based model for low-dose, radiation-induced, stochastic effects (genomic instability, apoptosis, mutations, neoplastic transformation) that leads to a LNT relationship between the risk for neoplastic transformation and dose only in special cases. It is shown that nonlinear dose-response relationships for risk of stochastic effects (problematic nonlethal mutations, neoplastic transformation) should be expected based on known biological mechanisms. Further, for low-dose, low-dose rate, low-LET radiation, large thresholds may exist for cancer induction. We summarize previously published data demonstrating large thresholds for cancer induction. We also provide evidence for low-dose-radiation-induced, protection (assumed via apoptosis) from neoplastic transformation. We speculate based on work of others (Chung 2002) that such protection may also be induced to operate on existing cancer cells and may be amplified by apoptosis-inducing agents such as dietary isothiocyanates.