Neutrons do not produce a bystander effect in zebrafish irradiated in vivo.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Neutron irradiations at the McMaster Tandetron Accelerator were performed to study direct and bystander effects of neutrons in a live organism.


The neutrons were produced through (7)Li(p,n)(7)Be reaction. Although the gamma contamination of the neutron beam cannot be completely eliminated, it was designed to be as low as possible and remain below a threshold already established for bystander effects. Microdosimetric methods using a tissue-equivalent proportional counter have been used to measure the neutron and gamma doses for the cell irradiation. Previous data for a cell line exposed in vitro suggested that neutrons did not produce bystander effects at doses below 300 mGy. The current experiments sought to confirm this using a live whole organism (zebrafish) where tissue samples harvested 2 h after exposure were examined for direct evidence of apoptosis and tested for secretion of bystander factors using an established bioassay. Fish were either exposed directly to the beam or were allowed to swim with or in water previously occupied by irradiated fish.


Using the zebrafish model it was found that there was significant direct cell death seen both by apoptosis scores and clonogenic assay when the neutron dose was approximately 100 mGy. An equivalent dose of gamma rays produced a more toxic effect. It was further found that neutrons did not induce a bystander effect in fish receiving signals from irradiated fish.


The results confirm in vitro experiments which suggest neutrons do not induce bystander signaling. In fact they may suppress gamma induced signaling suggesting a possible intriguing new and as yet unclear mechanism.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Wang, C; Smith, RW; Duhig, J; Prestwich, WV; Byun, SH; McNeill, FE; Seymour, CB; Mothersill, CE

Published Date

  • September 2011

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 87 / 9

Start / End Page

  • 964 - 973

PubMed ID

  • 21756060

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1362-3095

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0955-3002

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.3109/09553002.2011.584939


  • eng