Concise Review: Stem Cell Effects in Radiation Risk

Kevin Prise, A. Saran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Stem cells of normal mammalian tissues are defined as nonspecialized cells that have two critical properties: (a) the ability to renew themselves through cell division and (b) the potency to differentiate into other cell types. Therefore, they play a crucial role in development and in tissue homeostasis during adult life. Being long-lived, they can be the targets of environmental carcinogens leading to the accumulation of consecutive genetic changes. Hence, the genome of stem cells must be exceptionally well protected, and several protective mechanisms have evolved to ensure the genetic integrity of the stem cell compartment in any given tissue. Ionizing radiation exposure can disrupt tissue homeostasis both through the induction of cell killing/depletion of radiosensitive stem cells, leading to loss of tissue functionality and by genotoxic damage, increasing overall risk of cancer. We will review the current knowledge about radiation effects in adult stem cells of specific normal tissues, including skin, breast, and brain, examine parallels, as well as differences with cancer stem cells, and discuss the relevance of stem cell effects to radiation risk and radiotherapy. STEM CELLS 2011;29:1315-1321
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1315-1321
Number of pages7
JournalStem Cells
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Molecular Medicine

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