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Improving the accuracy of dose estimates from automatically scored dicentric chromosomes by accounting for chromosome number.

Endesfelder, David and Kulka, Ulrike and Einbeck, Jochen and Oestreicher, Ursula (2020) 'Improving the accuracy of dose estimates from automatically scored dicentric chromosomes by accounting for chromosome number.', International journal of radiation biology., 96 (12). pp. 1571-1584.

Abstract

Purpose: The traditional workflow for biological dosimetry based on manual scoring of dicentric chromosomes is very time consuming. Especially for large-scale scenarios or for low-dose exposures, high cell numbers have to be analysed, requiring alternative scoring strategies. Semi-automatic scoring of dicentric chromosomes provides an opportunity to speed up the standard workflow of biological dosimetry. Due to automatic metaphase and chromosome detection, the number of counted chromosomes per metaphase is variable. This can potentially introduce overdispersion and statistical methods for conventional, manual scoring might not be applicable to data obtained by automatic scoring of dicentric chromosomes, potentially resulting in biased dose estimates and underestimated uncertainties. The identification of sources for overdispersion enables the development of methods appropriately accounting for increased dispersion levels. Materials and methods: Calibration curves based on in-vitro irradiated (137-Cs; 0.44 Gy/min) blood from three healthy donors were analysed for systematic overdispersion, especially at higher doses (> 2 Gy) of low LET radiation. For each donor, 12 doses in the range of 0-6 Gy were scored semi-automatically. The effect of chromosome number as a potential cause for the observed overdispersion was assessed. Statistical methods based on interaction models accounting for the number of detected chromosomes were developed for the estimation of calibration curves, dose and corresponding uncertainties. The dose estimation was performed based on a Bayesian Markov-Chain-Monte-Carlo method, providing high flexibility regarding the implementation of priors, likelihood and the functional form of the association between predictors and dicentric counts. The proposed methods were validated by simulations based on cross-validation. Results: Increasing dose dependent overdispersion was observed for all three donors as well as considerable differences in dicentric counts between donors. Variations in the number of detected chromosomes between metaphases were identified as a major source for the observed overdispersion and the differences between donors. Persisting overdispersion beyond the contribution of chromosome number was modelled by a Negative Binomial distribution. Results from cross-validation suggested that the proposed statistical methods for dose estimation reduced bias in dose estimates, variability between dose estimates and improved the coverage of the estimated confidence intervals. However, the 95% confidence intervals were still slightly too permissive, suggesting additional unknown sources of apparent overdispersion. Conclusions: A major source for the observed overdispersion could be identified, and statistical methods accounting for overdispersion introduced by variations in the number of detected chromosomes were developed, enabling more robust dose estimation and quantification of uncertainties or semi-automatic counting of dicentric chromosomes.

Item Type:Article
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo
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Status:Peer-reviewed
Publisher Web site:https://doi.org/10.1080/09553002.2020.1829152
Date accepted:17 September 2020
Date deposited:05 October 2020
Date of first online publication:16 October 2020
Date first made open access:09 February 2021

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