Over the years, the advancement of radio diagnostic imaging tools and techniques has radically improved the diagnosis of different pathophysiological conditions, accompanied by increased exposure to low-dose ionizing radiation. Though the consequences of high dose radiation exposure on humans are very well comprehended, the more publicly relevant effects of low dose radiation (LDR) (≤100 mGy) exposure on the biological system remain ambiguous. The central nervous system, predominantly the developing brain with more neuronal precursor cells, is exceptionally radiosensitive and thus more liable to neurological insult even at low doses, as shown through several rodent studies. Further molecular studies have unraveled the various inflammatory and signaling mechanisms involved in cellular damage and repair that drive these physiological alterations that lead to functional alterations. Interestingly, few studies also claim that LDR exerts therapeutic effects on the brain by initiating an adaptive response. The present review summarizes the current understanding of the effects of low dose radiation at functional, cellular, and molecular levels and the various risks and benefits associated with it based on the evidence available from in vitro, in vivo, and clinical studies. Although the consensus indicates minimum consequences, the overall evidence suggests that LDR can bring about considerable neurological effects in the exposed individual, and hence a re-evaluation of the LDR usage levels and frequency of exposure is required.
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