APPENDIX 1Q Safe Use of Radioisotopes

  1. Jill Meisenhelder1,
  2. Kentaro Semba2

Published Online: 1 SEP 2006

DOI: 10.1002/0471142735.ima01qs74

Current Protocols in Immunology

Current Protocols in Immunology

How to Cite

Meisenhelder, J. and Semba, K. 2006. Safe Use of Radioisotopes. Current Protocols in Immunology. 74:1Q:A.1Q.1–A.1Q.12.

Author Information

  1. 1

    The Salk Institute, La Jolla, California

  2. 2

    The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 SEP 2006
  2. Published Print: AUG 2006


The use of radioisotopes to label specific molecules in a defined way has greatly furthered the discovery and dissection of biochemical pathways. The development of methods to synthesize such tagged biological compounds inexpensively on an industrial scale has enabled them to be used routinely in laboratory protocols, including many detailed in this manual. Although most of these protocols involve the use of only microcurie amounts of radioactivity, some (particularly those describing the metabolic labeling of proteins or nucleic acids within cells) require amounts on the order of millicuries. In all cases where radioisotopes are used, depending on the quantity and nature of the isotope, certain precautions must be taken to ensure the safety of the scientist. It is essential to use good safety practices and proper protection to handle radioactive substances. This unit discusses handling, storage, and disposal of the isotopes most frequently used in biological research.


  • safety;
  • radioisotopes;
  • metabolic labeling;
  • in vitro kinase reactions;
  • Plexiglas shielding