Comparison of cesium-137 and X-ray irradiators by using bone marrow transplant reconstitution in C57BL/6J mice

Brian W. Gibson, Nathan C. Boles, George P. Souroullas, Alan J. Herron, Joe K. Fraley, Rebecca S. Schwiebert, John J. Sharp, Margaret A. Goodell

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23 Scopus citations


Mice are used extensively in transplantation studies involving bone marrow ablation. Due to the increasing security issues and expenses involved with γ irradiators, self-contained X-ray irradiators have been increasing in popularity. We hypothesized that bone marrow ablation by irradiation of mice with a 137Cs irradiator would be comparable to that from an X-ray source irradiator. A lethaldose curve was obtained by irradiating C57BL/6J mice with 500, 700, 900, and 1100 cGy from either source. These data were used to determine the lethal radiation exposure range for a noncompetitive bone marrow engraftment curve for each source. At 90 d after reconstitution, the bone marrow engraftment curves revealed significant differences between the 2 sources in the establishment of B cell, myeloid, and T cell lineages. Murine B cell reconstitution after exposure to a 137Cs source was greater than that after X-ray exposure at each dose level, whereas the converse was true for myeloid cell reconstitution. At the 1050- and 1100-cGy doses, mice irradiated by using the X-ray source demonstrated higher levels of T cell reconstitution but decreased survival compared with mice irradiated with the 137Cs source. We concluded that although both sources ablated endogenous bone marrow sufficiently to enable stem cell engraftment, there are distinct physiologic responses that should be considered when choosing the optimal source for use in a study and that irradiation from the 137Cs source was associated with lower overall morbidity due to opportunistic infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-172
Number of pages8
JournalComparative medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • B3
  • B4
  • BMT
  • Barrier level
  • Barrier level 4
  • Bone marrow transplantation


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