Intravenous Iodinated Contrast Agents Amplify DNA Radiation Damage at CT

Piechowiak, Eike I; Peter, Jan-Friedrich W; Kleb, Beate; Klose, Klaus J; Heverhagen, Johannes (2015). Intravenous Iodinated Contrast Agents Amplify DNA Radiation Damage at CT. Radiology, 275(3), pp. 692-697. Radiological Society of North America RSNA 10.1148/radiol.14132478

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PURPOSE To determine the effect of the use of iodinated contrast agents on the formation of DNA double-strand breaks during chest computed tomography (CT). MATERIALS AND METHODS This study was approved by the institutional review board, and written informed consent was obtained from all patients. This single-center study was performed at a university hospital. A total of 179 patients underwent contrast material-enhanced CT, and 66 patients underwent unenhanced CT. Blood samples were taken from these patients prior to and immediately after CT. In these blood samples, the average number of phosphorylated histone H2AX (γH2AX) foci per lymphocyte was determined with fluorescence microscopy. Significant differences between the number of foci that developed in both the presence and the absence of the contrast agent were tested by using an independent sample t test. RESULTS γH2AX foci levels were increased in both groups after CT. Patients who underwent contrast-enhanced CT had an increased amount of DNA radiation damage (mean increase ± standard error of the mean, 0.056 foci per cell ± 0.009). This increase was 107% ± 19 higher than that in patients who underwent unenhanced CT (mean increase, 0.027 foci per cell ± 0.014). CONCLUSION The application of iodinated contrast agents during diagnostic x-ray procedures, such as chest CT, leads to a clear increase in the level of radiation-induced DNA damage as assessed with γH2AX foci formation.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Radiology, Neuroradiology and Nuclear Medicine (DRNN) > Institute of Diagnostic, Interventional and Paediatric Radiology

UniBE Contributor:

Heverhagen, Johannes


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Radiological Society of North America RSNA




Aisha Stefania Mzinga

Date Deposited:

23 Mar 2016 12:32

Last Modified:

27 Mar 2016 00:39

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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