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Validation of the Cytokinesis-block Micronucleus Assay Using Imaging Flow Cytometry for High Throughput Radiation Biodosimetry

Rodrigues, Matthew A.*†; Beaton-Green, Lindsay A.*; Wilkins, Ruth C.*

doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000000371

The cytokinesis-block micronucleus assay can be employed in triage radiation biodosimetry to determine the dose of radiation to an exposed individual by quantifying the frequency of micronuclei in binucleated lymphocyte cells. Partially automated analysis of the assay has been applied to traditional microscope-based methods, and most recently, the assay has been adapted to an automated imaging flow cytometry method. This method is able to automatically score a larger number of binucleated cells than are typically scored by microscopy. Whole blood samples were irradiated, divided into 2 mL and 200 μL aliquots, cultured for 48 h and 72 h, and processed to generate calibration curves from 0–4 Gy. To validate the method for use in radiation biodosimetry, nine separate whole blood samples were then irradiated to known doses, blinded, and processed. Results indicate that dose estimations can be determined to within ±0.5 Gy of the delivered dose after only 48 h of culture time with an initial blood volume of 200 μL. By performing the cytokinesis-block micronucleus assay using imaging flow cytometry, a significant reduction in the culture time and volume requirements is possible, which greatly increases the applicability of the assay in high throughput triage radiation biodosimetry.

*Consumer and Clinical Radiation Protection Bureau, Health Canada, 775 Brookfield Rd., K1A 1C1, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; †Department of Physics, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, K1S 5B6, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

For correspondence contact: Ruth Wilkins, Consumer and Clinical Radiation Protection Bureau, Health Canada, 775 Brookfield Rd., K1A 1C1, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, or email at

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(Manuscript accepted 10 August 2015)

© 2016 by the Health Physics Society