Biology ETDs

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Plutonium that reaches the systemic circulation by inhalation, ingestion or through cuts or abrasions is preferentially deposited in the liver and bone. Liver cancer may be an important late effect of this deposition. This study was designed to provide improved quantita­tion of the distribution of plutonium deposited in liver as a result of gradual introduction into the blood by absorption from the lung, com­pared with the immediate introduction by intravenous injection of a soluble form. In this study, Beagle dogs were exposed to an aerosol of 280Pu02 or an intravenous injection of 238Pu or 239Pu-citrate. Animals were either euthanized or sacrificed between 64 and 1553 days after exposure. Autoradiographs of liver tissue sections were used to study the distribution of plutonium by degree of uniformity, association with morphological structures and with cell types. Random distribution of plutonium at early times after exposure was changed to clustering of activity at times beyond two years after exposure. Plutonium which initially was equally distributed around central veins and portal triads moved closer to central veins. There was no pronounced effect of greater activity levels on the gross distribution of activity. The ratio of activity in the two major cell types (intrasinusoidal cells and hepatocytes) was affected by dose. The observed nonuniformities of plutonium distribution and resulting irradiation by alpha particles must be considered when interpreting dose-response relationships for alpha emitters deposited in the liver.



Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Biology Department

First Committee Member (Chair)

Roger O. McClellan

Second Committee Member

Gordon Verle Johnson

Third Committee Member

Marvin LeRoy Riedesel

Fourth Committee Member

Joseph H. Diel

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Biology Commons