University of Oulu

Mustonen, V., Kesäniemi, J., Lavrinienko, A., Tukalenko, E., Mappes, T., Watts, P., Jurvansuu, J. (2018) Fibroblasts from bank voles inhabiting Chernobyl have increased resistance against oxidative and DNA stresses. BMC Cell Biology, 19 (1), 17. doi:10.1186/s12860-018-0169-9

Fibroblasts from bank voles inhabiting Chernobyl have increased resistance against oxidative and DNA stresses

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Author: Mustonen, Venla1; Kesäniemi, Jenni1; Lavrinienko, Anton1;
Organizations: 1Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu
2Institute of Biology and Medicine, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv
3Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2018
Publish Date: 2018-10-17


Background: Elevated levels of environmental ionizing radiation can be a selective pressure for wildlife by producing reactive oxygen species and DNA damage. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms that are affected are not known.

Results: We isolated skin fibroblasts from bank voles (Myodes glareolus) inhabiting the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident site where background radiation levels are about 100 times greater than in uncontaminated areas. After a 10 Gy dose of gamma radiation fibroblasts from Chernobyl animals recovered faster than fibroblasts isolated from bank voles living in uncontaminated control area. The Chernobyl fibroblasts were able to sustain significantly higher doses of an oxidant and they had, on average, a higher total antioxidant capacity than the control fibroblasts. Furthermore, the Chernobyl fibroblasts were also significantly more resistant than the control fibroblasts to continuous exposure to three DNA damaging drugs. After drug treatment transcription of p53-target gene pro-apoptotic Bax was higher in the control than in the Chernobyl fibroblasts.

Conclusion: Fibroblasts isolated from bank voles inhabiting Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident site show elevated antioxidant levels, lower sensitivity to apoptosis, and increased resistance against oxidative and DNA stresses. These cellular qualities may help bank voles inhabiting Chernobyl to cope with environmental radioactivity.

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Series: BMC cell biology
ISSN: 1471-2121
ISSN-E: 1471-2121
ISSN-L: 1471-2121
Volume: 19
Article number: 17
DOI: 10.1186/s12860-018-0169-9
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This research was supported by a Kone Foundation grant for JJ.
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2018. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.