A biomarker for exposure and risk assessment would be most useful if it employs an endpoint that is highly quantitative, is stable with time, and is relevant to human risk. Recent advances in chromosome staining using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) facilitate fast and reliable measurement of reciprocal translocations, a kind of DNA damage linked to both prior clastogenic exposure and to risk. In contrast to other biomarkers available, the frequency of reciprocal translocations in individuals exposed to whole-body radiation is stable with time post exposure, has a rather small inter-individual variability, and can be measured accurately at the low levels. Here, we discuss results from our studies demonstrating that chromosome painting can be used to reconstruct radiation dose for workers exposed within the dose limits, for individuals exposed a long time ago, and even for those who have been diagnosed with leukemia but not yet undergone radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
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