Abstract Purpose: To quantitatively investigate the influence of various ?OH (hydroxyl radical) scavengers on the radiation sensitivity of yeast and bacteria, particularly to define the relationship between the protective effect of a scavenger and its ?OH scavenging efficiency. Materials and methods: In order to study the protective effect of ?OH scavengers we used various concentrations of four scavengers (methanol, potassium formate, ethanol and ascorbic acid) in isotonic salt solutions. These solutions containing live yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) or bacteria (Escherichia coli) were irradiated with (60)Co isotope ? -radiation using two different doses and dose rates. The number of surviving cells was determined prior to and after irradiation both in suspension with and without scavengers. The surviving fractions after irradiation with and without the scavenger were evaluated. Results and conclusions: The main results of the paper were: The surviving fraction increased approximately linearly within the measured interval with increasing concentration of the scavenger. The same dependences were found for the protecting effect depending on the scavenging efficiency. The slopes of these dependences (k) were found to be characteristic for each scavenger. The k value determined the degree in which the scavenging of ?OH radicals participated in the protection of living cells. The protective effects of scavengers at the same scavenging efficiency were different and unique for each scavenger. No simple relation was found between the efficiency of scavenger k and the rate constant kOH of the reactions between scavengers and ?OH radicals. Our results suggest that the studied scavengers effectively protected yeast and bacteria against ionizing radiation. Although the scavenging of ?OH radicals seems to be important for protection of living cells, it is clearly not the only process on which the protection is based.
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