Direct and delayed X-ray-induced DNA damage in male mouse germ cells

Eugenia Cordelli, Patrizia Eleuteri, Maria Giuseppa Grollino, Barbara Benassi, Giovanni Blandino, Cecilia Bartoleschi, Maria Chiara Pardini, Edoardo Vittorio Di Caprio, Marcello Spanò, Francesca Pacchierotti, Paola Villani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sperm DNA integrity is essential for the accurate transmission of paternal genetic information. Various stages of spermatogenesis are characterized by large differences in radiosensitivity. Differentiating spermatogonia are susceptible to radiation-induced cell killing, but some of them can repair DNA damage and progress through differentiation. In this study, we applied the neutral comet assay, immunodetection of phosphorylated H2AX (γ-H2AX) and the Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay (SCSA) to detect DNA strand breaks in testicular cells and spermatozoa at different times following in vivo X-ray irradiation. Radiation produced DNA strand breaks in testicular cells that were repaired within the first few hours after exposure. Spermatozoa were resistant to the induction of DNA damage, but non-targeted DNA lesions were detected in spermatozoa derived from surviving irradiated spermatogonia. These lesions formed while round spermatids started to elongate within the testicular seminiferous tubules. The transcription of pro-apoptotic genes at this time was also enhanced, suggesting that an apoptotic-like process was involved in DNA break production. Our results suggest that proliferating spermatogonia retain a memory of the radiation insult that is recognized at a later developmental stage and activates a process leading to DNA fragmentation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-439
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental and Molecular Mutagenesis
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


  • Ionizing radiation
  • Non-targeted effects, DNA strand breaks
  • Spermatogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Epidemiology
  • Genetics(clinical)


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