Long term depleted uranium exposure in Gulf War I veterans does not cause elevated numbers of micronuclei in peripheral blood lymphocytes

M. V. Bakhmutsky, M. S. Oliver, M. A. McDiarmid, K. S. Squibb, J. D. Tucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Depleted uranium (DU) is a high density heavy metal that has been used in military munitions since the 1991 Gulf War. DU is weakly radioactive and chemically toxic. Long term exposure can cause adverse health effects. This study assessed genotoxic effects in DU exposed Gulf War I veterans as a function of uranium (U) body burden. Levels of urine U were used to categorize the cohort into low and high exposure groups. Exposure to DU occurred during friendly fire incidents in 1991 involving DU munitions resulting in inhalation and ingestion exposure to small particles of DU and soft tissue DU fragments from traumatic injuries. All of these Veterans are enrolled in a long term health surveillance program at the Baltimore Veterans Administration Medical Center. Blood was drawn from 35 exposed male veterans aged 36-59 years, then cultured and evaluated for micronuclei (MN) using the cytokinesis block method. The participants were divided into two exposure groups, low and high, based on their mean urine uranium (uU) concentrations. Poisson regression analyses with mean urine U concentrations, current smoking, X-rays in the past year and donor age as dependent variables revealed no significant relationships with MN frequencies. Our results indicate that on-going systemic exposure to DU occurring in Gulf War I Veterans with DU embedded fragments does not induce significant increases in MN in peripheral blood lymphocytes compared to MN frequencies in Veterans with normal U body burdens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-57
Number of pages5
JournalMutation Research - Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Feb 28 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Depleted uranium
  • Gulf War I
  • Human radiation exposure
  • Micronuclei
  • Peripheral blood lymphocytes
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Genetics


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