The influence of dose, dose-rate and particle fragmentation on cataract induction by energetic iron ions
Because activities in space necessarily involve chronic exposure to a heterogeneous charged particle radiation field it is important to assess the influence of dose-rate and the possible modulating role of heavy particle fragmentation on biological systems. Using the well-studied cataract model, mice were exposed to plateau 600 MeV/amu 56Fe ions either as acute or fractionated exposures at total doses of 5 - 504 cGy. Additional groups of mice received 20, 360 and 504 cGy behind 50 mm of polyethylene, which simulates body shielding. The reference radiation consisted of 60Co γ radiation. The animals were examined by slit lamp biomicroscopy over their three year life spans. In accordance with our previous observations with heavy particles, the cataractogenic potential of the 600 MeV/amu 56Fe ions was greater than for low-LET radiation and increased with decreasing dose relative to γ-rays. Fractionation of a given dose of 56Fe ions did not reduce the cataractogenicity of the radiation compared to the acute regimen. Fragmentation of the beam in the polyethylene did not alter the cataractotoxicity of the ions, either when administered singly or in fractions.