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Journal of Aging Research
Volume 2012, Article ID 481983, 7 pages
Research Article

Low-Dose, Ionizing Radiation and Age-Related Changes in Skeletal Microarchitecture

1Bone and Signaling Laboratory, NASA Ames Research Center, Mail Stop 236-7, Moffett Field, CA 94035, USA
2Department of Radiation Oncology, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697, USA

Received 6 August 2011; Revised 12 November 2011; Accepted 29 November 2011

Academic Editor: Sharmila Bhattacharya

Copyright © 2012 Joshua S. Alwood et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Osteoporosis can profoundly affect the aged as a consequence of progressive bone loss; high-dose ionizing radiation can cause similar changes, although less is known about lower doses (≤100 cGy). We hypothesized that exposure to relatively low doses of gamma radiation accelerates structural changes characteristic of skeletal aging. Mice (C57BL/6J-10 wk old, male) were irradiated (total body; 0-sham, 1, 10 or 100 cGy 137Cs) and tissues harvested on the day of irradiation, 1 or 4 months later. Microcomputed tomography was used to quantify microarchitecture of high turnover, cancellous bone. Irradiation at 100 cGy caused transient microarchitectural changes over one month that were only evident at longer times in controls (4 months). Ex vivo bone cell differentiation from the marrow was unaffected by gamma radiation. In conclusion, acute ionizing gamma irradiation at 100 cGy (but not at 1 cGy or 10 cGy) exacerbated microarchitectural changes normally found during progressive, postpubertal aging prior to the onset of age-related osteoporosis.