Last update in August 2018
The Radiochemistry, Speciation and Imaging Laboratory (LRSI) is located at Fontenay-aux-Roses, in the Paris region. It is managed by Céline Bouvier-Capely and is made up of research engineers and technicians covering various specialties such as radiochemistry, pharmacy, toxicology, physical measurement and biophysics. The Laboratory also regularly hosts doctoral students, post-doctoral researchers and student interns. The Laboratory’s activities are aimed at gaining a better understanding of the effect of radionuclides on humans, improving the treatments available for internal contamination, and improving the assessment of exposure.
Context and research themes
One of IRSN’s objectives is to lead research projects aimed at understanding the biological effects of ionizing radiation, especially in cases of internal contamination, i.e. where radionuclides enter the body. This type of exposure can be occupational, environmental or medical, for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes, and can occur in normal conditions or during an accident. Knowing and understanding the mechanisms of transfer and the fate of radionuclides in the organism is essential to properly assess the health risks caused by internal contamination. For this purpose, it is necessary to have as accurate a knowledge as possible of the speciation of radionuclides (i.e. the different physico-chemical forms in which radionuclides are distributed within an organism), their interactions with the molecules in the organism and where they are located within its tissues, to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms controlling their deposition in target organs and their toxicity. In this context, LRSI establishes research programs to:
Improve knowledge of radionuclide speciation (location, quantification, identification) in biological environments;
Develop methods to limit the effects of radionuclides on the body if internal contamination occurs;
Develop protocols to analyze and measure radionuclides in excreta to improve the assessment of contamination in particular for emergency response.
The Laboratory aims to:
Develop tools and conduct research to acquire knowledge about the speciation (location, quantification, identification) of radionuclides in biological environments to contribute to an understanding of their effects on living organisms. These research projects aim particularly to determine as precisely as possible the location of the radionuclides in the organs where they are retained and in the target tissues (from organ/tissue scale to cellular scale) and to correlate this with the biological and molecular mechanisms resulting from this contamination.
Develop prevention/treatment methods to limit the effects of the radionuclides on the body if internal contamination occurs. The LRSI’s chosen strategy relies on the development of specific complexing agents for the radionuclides and the galenic formulation of these agents, but also on research into pharmaceutical molecules that can prevent the radionuclides from penetrating cells.
Develop protocols to analyze and measure radionuclides in excreta to improve assessment of internal contamination both in emergencies (nuclear accidents, malicious acts) and in post-accident and occupational exposure situations. The LRSI is aiming to improve both the sensitivity and the response time of radiotoxicological analysis methods, especially in the case of actinides in biological media. The Laboratory uses the coupling of separative chromatography column and measurement by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) for this work.
Give technical and scientific support to the LAMR and to the medical biology analysis laboratories run by the nuclear operators (CEA, EDF and ORANO).
To carry out its work, the LRSI uses both an animal experimentation platform at IRSN and a platform offering a variety of analysis techniques (SIMS, laser ablation, ICP-MS, alpha-particle spectrometry, HPLC).
Céline Bouvier-Capély, head of laboratory
Yann Gueguen, researcher
Valérie Holler, researcher
Géraldine Landon, engineer
Alexandre Legrand, technician
Annabelle Manoury, technician
Guillaume Phan, researcher
David Suhard, technician
Nagore Grijalba, post-doctoral researcher (2018-2019)
Facilities and methods
The LRSI has the following equipment:
- secondary ion mass spectrometer (SIMS),
- laser capture microdissection system,
- laser ablation system,
- inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometers (HR and quadrupole ICP-MS),
- alpha spectrometry systems,
- HPLC system
Partnership and research networks
The LRSI works in collaboration with the Faculty of Pharmacy at Châtenay-Malabry and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Chimie in Paris, and also with its national (CEA) and international (SCK-CEN, CIEMAT) counterparts. It collaborates with many international institutes on research contracts co-financed by the European Commission.