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Studies of the effects of radiation at the cellular level have generally been carried out by exposing cells randomly to the charged-particle tracks of a radiation beam. Recently, a number of laboratories have developed techniques for microbeam irradiation of individual cells. These approaches are designed to remove much of the randomness of conventional methods and allow the nature of the targets and pathways involved in a range of radiation effects to be studied with greater selectivity. Another advantage is that the responses of individual cells can be followed in a time-lapse fashion and, for example, processes such as "bystander" effects can be studied clearly. The microbeam approach is of particular importance in mechanistic studies related to the risks associated with exposure to low fluences of charged particles. This is because it is now possible to determine the actions of strictly single particle tracks and thereby mimic, under in vitro conditions, exposures at low radiation dose that are significant for protection levels, especially those involving medium- to high-LET radiations. Overall, microbeam methods provide a new dimension in exploring mechanisms of radiation effect at the cellular level. Microbeam methods and their application to the study of the cellular effects of single charged-particle traversals are described.


Journal article


Adv Space Res

Publication Date





871 - 876


Alpha Particles, Animals, Bystander Effect, Cell Nucleus, Cells, DNA, Humans, Radiobiology, X-Rays