Effets biologiques des neutrons: mécanismes et applications
Radioprotection (Oct-Dec 1999) v. 34(no.4) p. 521-543 (in French)
The interest to study the ionizing radiations effects on the biological structures concern not only the fundamental comprehension of the mechanisms leading to the radiation damage but also much more pragmatic problems such as the accidental overexposure or radiotherapy treatment. Among these fundamental or applied studies, the neutrons effects take an important part, because of their particular mode of indirect ionization effect and their applications, as well civil as military ones. The purpose of this review is to point out some specific biological effects of neutrons and to describe biological methods to measure them. It clearly appears that neutrons biological effects are more deleterious than those caused by the radiations of lower TEL(X- and gamma-rays) taken as reference, for all the measurement levels used, genes mutations, chromosome aberrations, cellular survival or carcinogenesis. This difference is probably related to the density of the energy deposit in the vital cell targets, and to the absence of significant variations related to oxygenation, dose rate or dose fractionation. Such toxic effects, when considered in the course of a criticality accident, can paradoxically become an advantage in the follow-up of therapeutic treatment.