"Radar Soldier" Study Published in Nature Scientific Reports

The results of our recent radar soldier study have been published in the article Multisite de novo mutations in human offspring after paternal exposure to ionizing radiation" in Nature Scientific Reports. In this manuscript, we present the results of our pilot study examining the inheritability of ionizing radiation-induced mutations in human. The key outcome is the identification of multi-site de novo mutations (MSDN) as a potential marker of inherited damages of mutations induced by radiation in human. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first article using the MSDN marker in human.

Illustration of radiation altering the genome: a ‘multisite de novo mutation’ (MSDN) occurs when two or more defects occur adjacently in the DNA strands of 20 base pairs.

Illustration of radiation altering the genome: a ‘multisite de novo mutation’ (MSDN) occurs when two or more defects occur adjacently in the DNA strands of 20 base pairs.© 2018 Institute of Genomic Statistics and Bioinformatics/UKB

A genome-wide evaluation of the effects of ionizing radiation on mutation induction in the mouse germline has identified multisite de novo mutations (MSDNs) as marker for previous exposure. Here we present the results of a small pilot study of whole genome sequencing in offspring of soldiers who served in radar units on weapon systems that were emitting high-frequency radiation. We found cases of exceptionally high MSDN rates as well as an increased mean in our cohort: While a MSDN mutation is detected in average in 1 out of 5 offspring of unexposed controls, we observed 12 MSDNs in altogether 18 offspring, including a family with 6 MSDNs in 3 offspring. Moreover, we found two translocations, also resulting from neighboring mutations. Our findings indicate that MSDNs might be suited in principle for the assessment of DNA damage from ionizing radiation also in humans. However, as exact person-related dose values in risk groups are usually not available, the interpretation of MSDNs in single families would benefit from larger molecular epidemiologic studies on this new biomarker.

Note that we are performing a follow-up study together with Universität Bonn funded by the German Ministry of Defense. Additional information can be found on the Radar Study homepage.

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Last modified: Oct 2, 2018