Differentiation of Heterogeneous Radiation Exposure Using Hematology and Blood Chemistry

M. Waleed Gaber, Shaefali P. Rodgers, Tien T. Tang, Omaima Sabek, Janice A. Zawaski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In the aftermath of a nuclear incident, survivors will suffer the deleterious effects from acute radiation exposure. The majority of those affected would have received heterogeneous radiation exposure, reflected in hematological metrics and blood chemistry. Here, we investigated the acute and long-term changes in kinetics and magnitude of pancytopenia and blood chemistry in rats irradiated using varying degrees of body shielding. We hypothesized that, although a single blood count may not be able to differentiate the degree of radiation exposure, a combination of measurements from complete blood cell counts (CBCs) and blood chemistry tests is able to do so. Male Sprague Dawley rats, 8-10 weeks of age, received single-dose 7.5 Gy (160 kVp, 25 mA, 1.16 Gy/min) whole-body irradiation (WBI, LD100/30) or partial-body irradiation (PBI), as follows: One leg shielded (1LS, LD0/30), two legs shielded (2LS, LD0/30) or the upper half of the body shielded (UHS, LD0/30). Animal morbidity and weights were measured. Blood was drawn at 1, 5, 10, 20 and 30 days postirradiation (n = 4-11). For kidney and liver function measurements, CBC and blood chemistry analyses were performed. WBI animals on average survived 9 ± 0.4 days postirradiation. In contrast, all PBI animals survived the 30-day study period. CBC analysis revealed that both white blood cell (WBC) and platelet counts were most affected after irradiation. While WBC counts were significantly lower in all irradiated groups on days 1, 5 and 10, platelets were only significantly lower on days 5 and 10 postirradiation. In addition, on day 5 postirradiation both WBC and platelet counts were able to differentiate WBI (non-survivors) from PBI 2LS and UHS animals (survivors). Using four blood parameters (platelets, percentage lymphocytes, percentage neutrophils and percentage monocytes) on day 5 after 7.5 Gy irradiation and a linear discrimination analysis (LDA), we were able to predict the degree of body exposure in animals with a 95.8% accuracy. Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) was significantly lower in all groups on days 5 and 10 postirradiation compared to baseline. Furthermore, ALP was significantly higher in the UHS than WBI animals. The AST:ALT ratio was significantly higher than baseline in all irradiated groups on day 1 postirradiation. In conclusion, four CBC parameters, on day 5 after receiving a 7.5 Gy dose of radiation, can be employed in a LDA to differentiate various degrees of exposure (shielding). The characterization presented in this work paves the way for further studies in differences caused by heterogeneous body exposure to radiation and a new metric for biodosimetry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-33
Number of pages10
JournalRadiation Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiation
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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