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The effects of repeated brain MRI on chromosomal damage

Abstract : Background Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is currently considered a safe imaging technique because, unlike computed tomography, MRI does not expose patients to ionising radiation. However, conflicting literature reports possible genotoxic effects of MRI. We herein examine the chromosomal effects of repeated MRI scans by performing a longitudinal follow-up of chromosomal integrity in volunteers. Methods This ethically approved study was performed on 13 healthy volunteers (mean age 33 years) exposed to up to 26 3-T MRI sessions. The characterisation of chromosome damage in peripheral blood lymphocytes was performed using the gold-standard biodosimetry technique augmented with telomere and centromere staining. Results Cytogenetic analysis showed no detectable effect after a single MRI scan. However, repeated MRI sessions (from 10 to 20 scans) were associated with a small but significant increase in chromosomal breaks with the accumulation of cells with chromosomal terminal deletions with a coefficient of 9.5% (95% confidence interval 6.5–12.5%) per MRI ( p < 0.001). Additional exposure did not result in any further increase. This plateauing of damage suggests lymphocyte turnover. Additionally, there was no significant induction of dicentric chromosomes, in contrast to what is observed following exposure to ionising radiation. Conclusions Our study showed that MRI can affect chromosomal integrity. However, the amount of damage per cell might be so low that no chromosomal rearrangement by fusion of two deoxyribonucleic breaks is induced, unlike that seen after exposure to computed tomography. This study confirms that MRI is a safe imaging technique.
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Contributor : Bertrand Thirion Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, June 1, 2022 - 1:56:10 PM
Last modification on : Friday, August 5, 2022 - 12:02:18 PM


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Cecile Herate, Patricia Brochard, Florent de Vathaire, Michelle Ricoul, Bernadette Martins, et al.. The effects of repeated brain MRI on chromosomal damage. European Radiology Experimental, Springer, 2022, 6 (12), ⟨10.1186/s41747-022-00264-2⟩. ⟨hal-03599454⟩



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