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1.  Impact of Breathing 100% Oxygen on Radiation-Induced Cognitive Impairment 
Radiation research  2014;182(5):580-585.
Future space missions are expected to include increased extravehicular activities (EVAs) during which astronauts are exposed to high-energy space radiation while breathing 100% oxygen. Given that brain irradiation can lead to cognitive impairment, and that oxygen is a potent radiosensitizer, there is a concern that astronauts may be at greater risk of developing cognitive impairment when exposed to space radiation while breathing 100% O2 during an EVA. To address this concern, unanesthetized, unrestrained, young adult male Fischer 344 × Brown Norway rats were allowed to breathe 100% O2 for 30 min prior to, during and 2 h after whole-body irradiation with 0, 1, 3, 5 or 7 Gy doses of 18 MV X rays delivered from a medical linear accelerator at a dose rate of ~425 mGy/min. Irradiated and unirradiated rats breathing air (~21% O2) served as controls. Cognitive function was assessed 9 months postirradiation using the perirhinal cortex-dependent novel object recognition task. Cognitive function was not impaired until the rats breathing either air or 100% O2 received a whole-body dose of 7 Gy. However, at all doses, cognitive function of the irradiated rats breathing 100% O2 was improved over that of the irradiated rats breathing air. These data suggest that astronauts are not at greater risk of developing cognitive impairment when exposed to space radiation while breathing 100% O2 during an EVA.
PMCID: PMC4321947  PMID: 25338095
2.  Fast Image Analysis for the Micronucleus Assay in a Fully Automated High-Throughput Biodosimetry System 
Radiation research  2014;181(2):146-161.
The development of, and results from an image analysis system are presented for automated detection and scoring of micronuclei in human peripheral blood lymphocytes. The system is part of the Rapid Automated Biodosimetry Tool, which was developed at the Center for High-Throughput Minimally Invasive Radiation Biodosimetry for rapid radiation dose assessment of many individuals based on single fingerstick samples of blood. Blood lymphocytes were subjected to the cytokinesis-block micronucleus assay and the images of cell cytoplasm and nuclei are analyzed to estimate the frequency of micronuclei in binucleated cells. We describe an algorithm that is based on dual fluorescent labeling of lymphocytes with separate analysis of images of cytoplasm and nuclei. To evaluate the performance of the system, blood samples of seven healthy donors were irradiated in vitro with doses from 0–10 Gy and dose-response curves of micronuclei frequencies were generated. To establish the applicability of the system to the detection of high doses, the ratios of mononucleated cells to binucleated cells were determined for three of the donors. All of the dose-response curves generated automatically showed clear dose dependence and good correlation (R2 from 0.914–0.998) with the results of manual scoring.
PMCID: PMC4011502  PMID: 24502354
3.  Comprehensive Profiling of Radiosensitive Human Cell Lines with DNA Damage Response Assays Identifies the Neutral Comet Assay as a Potential Surrogate for Clonogenic Survival 
Radiation research  2011;177(2):176-186.
In an effort to explore the possible causes of human radiosensitivity and identify more rapid assays for cellular radiosensitivity, we interrogated a set of assays that evaluate cellular functions involved in recognition and repair of DNA double-strand breaks: (1) neutral comet assay, (2) radiation-induced γ-H2AX focus formation, (3) the temporal kinetics of structural maintenance of chromosomes 1 phosphorylation, (4) intra-S-phase checkpoint integrity, and (5) mitochondrial respiration. We characterized a unique panel of 19 “radiosensitive” human lymphoblastoid cell lines from individuals with undiagnosed diseases suggestive of a DNA repair disorder. Radiosensitivity was defined by reduced cellular survival using a clonogenic survival assay. Each assay identified cell lines with defects in DNA damage response functions. The highest concordance rate observed, 89% (17/19), was between an abnormal neutral comet assay and reduced survival by the colony survival assay. Our data also suggested that the neutral comet assay would be a more rapid surrogate for analyzing DNA repair/processing disorders.
PMCID: PMC4316198  PMID: 21962002
4.  [No title available] 
PMCID: PMC4064942  PMID: 24397478
5.  Functional Proteomics Analysis to Study ATM Dependent Signaling in Response to Ionizing Radiation 
Radiation research  2013;179(6):674-683.
Ataxia telangiectasia (AT) is a human genetic disease characterized by radiation sensitivity, impaired neuronal development and predisposition to cancer. Using a genetically defined model cell system consisting of cells expressing a kinase dead or a kinase proficient ATM gene product, we previously reported systemic alterations in major metabolic pathways that translate at the gene expression, protein and small molecule metabolite levels. Here, we report ionizing radiation induced stress response signaling arising from perturbations in the ATM gene, by employing a functional proteomics approach. Functional pathway analysis shows robust translational and post-translational responses under ATM proficient conditions, which include enrichment of proteins in the Ephrin receptor and axonal guidance signaling pathways. These molecular networks offer a hypothesis generating function for further investigations of cellular stress responses.
PMCID: PMC4301981  PMID: 23642045
6.  Immune System Phenotyping of Radiation and Radiation Combined Injury in Outbred Mice 
Radiation research  2012;179(1):101-112.
The complexity of a radionuclear event would be immense due to varying levels of radiation exposures and injuries caused by blast-associated trauma. With this scenario in mind, we developed a mouse model to mimic as closely as possible the potential consequences of radiation injury and radiation combined injury (RCI) on survival, immune system phenotype, and immune function. Using a mouse burn injury model and a 137CsCl source irradiator to induce injuries, we report that the immunological response to radiation combined injury differs significantly from radiation or burn injury alone. Mice that underwent radiation combined injury showed lower injury survival and cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) induced polymicrobial sepsis survival rates than mice with single injuries. As anticipated, radiation exposure caused dose-dependent losses of immune cell subsets. We found B and T cells to be more radiation sensitive, while macrophages, dendritic cells and NK cells were relatively more resistant. However, radiation and radiation combined injury did induce significant increases in the percentages of CD4+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) and a subset of macrophages that express cell-surface GR-1 (GR-1+ macrophages). Immune system phenotyping analysis indicated that spleen cells from radiation combined injury mice produced higher levels of proinflammatory cytokines than cells from mice with radiation or burn injury alone, especially at lower dose radiation exposure levels. Interestingly, this enhanced proinflammatory phenotype induced by radiation combined injury persisted for at least 28 days after injury. In total, our data provide baseline information on differences in immune phenotype and function between radiation injury and radiation combined injury in mice. The establishment of this animal model will aid in future testing for therapeutic strategies to mitigate the immune and pathophysiological consequences of radionuclear events.
PMCID: PMC4287236  PMID: 23216446
7.  Radiologic Differences between Bone Marrow Stromal and Hematopoietic Progenitor Cell Lines from Fanconi Anemia (Fancd2−/−) Mice 
Radiation research  2014;181(1):76-89.
FancD2 plays a central role in the human Fanconi anemia DNA damage response (DDR) pathway. Fancd2−/− mice exhibit many features of human Fanconi anemia including cellular DNA repair defects. Whether the DNA repair defect in Fancd2−/− mice results in radiologic changes in all cell lineages is unknown. We measured stress of hematopoiesis in long-term marrow cultures and radiosensitivity in clonogenic survival curves, as well as comet tail intensity, total antioxidant stores and radiation-induced gene expression in hematopoietic progenitor compared to bone marrow stromal cell lines. We further evaluated radioprotection by a mitochondrial-targeted antioxidant GS-nitroxide, JP4-039. Hematopoiesis longevity in Fancd2−/− mouse long-term marrow cultures was diminished and bone marrow stromal cell lines were radiosensitive compared to Fancd2+/+ stromal cells (Fancd2−/− D0 = 1.4 ± 0.1 Gy, ñ = 5.0 ± 0.6 vs. Fancd2+/+ D0 = 1.6 ± 0.1 Gy, ñ = 6.7 ± 1.6), P = 0.0124 for D0 and P = 0.0023 for ñ, respectively). In contrast, Fancd2−/− IL-3-dependent hematopoietic progenitor cells were radioresistant (D0 = 1.71 ± 0.04 Gy and ñ = 5.07 ± 0.52) compared to Fancd2+/+ (D0 = 1.39 ± 0.09 Gy and ñ = 2.31 ± 0.85, P = 0.001 for D0). CFU-GM from freshly explanted Fancd2−/− marrow was also radioresistant. Consistent with radiosensitivity, irradiated Fancd2−/− stromal cells had higher DNA damage by comet tail intensity assay compared to Fancd2+/+ cells (P < 0.0001), slower DNA damage recovery, lower baseline total antioxidant capacity, enhanced radiation-induced depletion of antioxidants, and increased CDKN1A-p21 gene transcripts and protein. Consistent with radioresistance, Fancd2−/− IL-3-dependent hematopoietic cells had higher baseline and post irradiation total antioxidant capacity. While, there was no detectable alteration of radiation-induced cell cycle arrest with Fancd2−/− stromal cells, hematopoietic progenitor cells showed reduced G2/M cell cycle arrest. The absence of the mouse Fancd2 gene product confers radiosensitivity to bone marrow stromal but not hematopoietic progenitor cells.
PMCID: PMC3970166  PMID: 24397476
8.  The Peroxisomal Proliferator-Activated Receptor (PPAR) α Agonist, Fenofibrate, Prevents Fractionated Whole-Brain Irradiation-Induced Cognitive Impairment 
Radiation research  2014;181(1):33-44.
We hypothesized that dietary administration of the peroxisomal proliferator-activated receptor α agonist, fenofibrate, to young adult male rats would prevent the fractionated whole-brain irradiation (fWBI)-induced reduction in cognitive function and neurogenesis and prevent the fWBI-induced increase in the total number of activated microglia. Eighty 12–14-week-old young adult male Fischer 344 × Brown Norway rats received either: (1) sham irradiation, (2) 40 Gy of fWBI delivered as two 5 Gy fractions/week for 4 weeks, (3) sham irradiation + dietary fenofibrate (0.2% w/w) starting 7 days prior to irradiation, or (4) fWBI + fenofibrate. Cognitive function was measured 26–29 weeks after irradiation using: (1) the perirhinal cortex (PRh)-dependent novel object recognition task; (2) the hippocampal-dependent standard Morris water maze (MWM) task; (3) the hippocampal-dependent delayed match-to-place version of the MWM task; and (4) a cue strategy preference version of the MWM to distinguish hippocampal from striatal task performance. Neurogenesis was assessed 29 weeks after fWBI in the granular cell layer and subgranular zone of the dentate gyrus using a doublecortin antibody. Microglial activation was assessed using an ED1 antibody in the dentate gyrus and hilus of the hippocampus. A significant impairment in perirhinal cortex-dependent cognitive function was measured after fWBI. In contrast, fWBI failed to alter hippocampal-dependent cognitive function, despite a significant reduction in hippocampal neurogenesis. Continuous administration of fenofibrate prevented the fWBI-induced reduction in perirhinal cortex-dependent cognitive function, but did not prevent the radiation-induced reduction in neurogenesis or the radiation-induced increase in activated microglia. These data suggest that fenofibrate may be a promising therapeutic for the prevention of some modalities of radiation-induced cognitive impairment in brain cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC4144193  PMID: 24397438
9.  Effects of Low-Dose Ionizing Radiation and Menadione, an Inducer of Oxidative Stress, Alone and in Combination in a Vertebrate Embryo Model 
Radiation research  2012;178(5):499-503.
Prior work has established the zebrafish embryo as an in vivo model for studying the biological effects of exposure to low doses of ionizing radiation. One of the known effects of radiation is to elevate the levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in tissue. However, ROS are also produced as byproducts of normal metabolism and, regardless of origin, ROS produce similar chemical damage to DNA. Here we use the zebrafish embryo model to investigate whether the effects of low-dose (0–1.5 Gy) radiation and endogenous ROS are mechanistically distinct. We increased levels of endogenous ROS by exposure to low concentrations of the quinone drug, menadione. Imaging studies in live embryos showed that exposure to 3 μM or higher concentrations of menadione dramatically increased ROS levels. This treatment was associated with a growth delay and morphologic abnormalities, which were partially or fully reversible. By contrast, exposure to low doses of ionizing radiation had no discernable effects on overall growth or morphology, although, there was an increase in TUNEL-positive apoptotic cells, consistent with the results of prior studies. Further studies showed that the combined effect of radiation and menadione exposure are greater than with either agent alone, and that attenuation of the expression of Ku80, a gene important for repair of radiation-induced DNA damage, had only a slight effect on menadione sensitivity. Together, results suggest that ionizing radiation and menadione affect the embryo by distinct mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC4286334  PMID: 23092554
10.  Quercetin Inhibits Radiation-Induced Skin Fibrosis 
Radiation research  2013;180(2):205-215.
Radiation induced fibrosis of the skin is a late toxicity that may result in loss of function due to reduced range of motion and pain. The current study sought to determine if oral delivery of quercetin mitigates radiation-induced cutaneous injury. Female C3H/HeN mice were fed control chow or quercetin-formulated chow (1% by weight). The right hind leg was exposed to 35 Gy of X rays and the mice were followed serially to assess acute toxicity and hind leg extension. Tissue samples were collected for assessment of soluble collagen and tissue cytokines. Human and murine fibroblasts were subjected to clonogenic assays to determine the effects of quercetin on radiation response. Contractility of fibroblasts was assessed with a collagen contraction assay in the presence or absence of quercetin and transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β). Western blotting of proteins involved in fibroblast contractility and TGF-β signaling were performed. Quercetin treatment significantly reduced hind limb contracture, collagen accumulation and expression of TGF-β in irradiated skin. Quercetin had no effect on the radioresponse of fibroblasts or murine tumors, but was capable of reducing the contractility of fibroblasts in response to TGF-β, an effect that correlated with partial stabilization of phosphorylated cofilin. Quercetin is capable of mitigating radiation induced skin fibrosis and should be further explored as a therapy for radiation fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC4281888  PMID: 23819596
11.  Effects of Radiation Combined Injury on Hippocampal Function are Modulated in Mice Deficient in Chemokine Receptor 2 (CCR2) 
Radiation research  2013;180(1):78-88.
Chemokines and their receptors play a crucial role in normal brain function as well as in pathological conditions such as injury and disease-associated neuroinflammation. Chemokine receptor-2 (CCR2), which mediates the recruitment of infiltrating and resident microglia to sites of central nervous system (CNS) inflammation, is upregulated by ionizing irradiation and traumatic brain injury. Our objective was to determine if a deficiency in CCR2 and subsequent effects on brain microglia affect neurogenesis and cognitive function after radiation combined injury (RCI). CCR2 knock-out (−/−) and wild-type (WT) mice received 4 Gy of whole body 137Cs irradiation. Immediately after irradiation, unilateral traumatic brain injury was induced using a controlled cortical impact system. Forty-four days postirradiation, animals were tested for hippocampus-dependent cognitive performance in the Morris water-maze. After cognitive testing, animals were euthanized and their brains snap frozen for immunohistochemical assessment of neuroinflammation (activated microglia) and neurogenesis in the hippocampal dentate gyrus. All animals were able to locate the visible and hidden platform locations in the water maze; however, treatment effects were seen when spatial memory retention was assessed in the probe trials (no platform). In WT animals that received combined injury, a significant impairment in spatial memory retention was observed in the probe trial after the first day of hidden platform training (first probe trial). This impairment was associated with increased neurogenesis in the ipsilateral hemisphere of the dentate gyrus. In contrast, CCR2−/− mice, independent of insult showed significant memory retention in the first probe trial and there were no differences in the numbers of newly born neurons in the animals receiving irradiation, trauma or combined injury. Although the mechanisms involved are not clear, our data suggests that CCR2 deficiency can exert a protective effect preventing the impairment of cognitive function after combined injury.
PMCID: PMC4282166  PMID: 23772926
12.  Redefining Relative Biological Effectiveness in the Context of the EQDX Formalism: Implications for Alpha-Particle Emitter Therapy 
Radiation research  2014;181(1):90-98.
Alpha-particle radiopharmaceutical therapy (αRPT) is currently enjoying increasing attention as a viable alternative to chemotherapy for targeting of disseminated micrometastatic disease. In theory, αRPT can be personalized through pre-therapeutic imaging and dosimetry. However, in practice, given the particularities of α-particle emissions, a dosimetric methodology that accurately predicts the thresholds for organ toxicity has not been reported. This is in part due to the fact that the biological effects caused by α-particle radiation differ markedly from the effects caused by traditional external beam (photon or electron) radiation or β-particle emitting radiopharmaceuticals. The concept of relative biological effectiveness (RBE) is used to quantify the ratio of absorbed doses required to achieve a given biological response with alpha particles versus a reference radiation (typically a beta emitter or external beam radiation). However, as conventionally defined, the RBE varies as a function of absorbed dose and therefore a single RBE value is limited in its utility because it cannot be used to predict response over a wide range of absorbed doses. Therefore, efforts are underway to standardize bioeffect modeling for different fractionation schemes and dose rates for both nuclear medicine and external beam radiotherapy. Given the preponderant use of external beams of radiation compared to nuclear medicine in cancer therapy, the more clinically relevant quantity, the 2 Gy equieffective dose, EQD2(α/β), has recently been proposed by the ICRU. In concert with EQD2(α/β), we introduce a new, redefined RBE quantity, named RBE2(α/β), as the ratio of the two linear coefficients that characterize the α particle absorbed dose-response curve and the low-LET megavoltage photon 2 Gy fraction equieffective dose-response curve. The theoretical framework for the proposed new formalism is presented along with its application to experimental data obtained from irradiation of a breast cancer cell line. Radiobiological parameters are obtained using the linear quadratic model to fit cell survival data for MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells that were irradiated with either α particles or a single fraction of low-LET 137Cs γ rays. From these, the linear coefficient for both the biologically effective dose (BED) and the EQD2(α/β) response lines were derived for fractionated irradiation. The standard RBE calculation, using the traditional single fraction reference radiation, gave RBE values that ranged from 2.4 for a surviving fraction of 0.82–6.0 for a surviving fraction of 0.02, while the dose-independent RBE2(4.6) value was 4.5 for all surviving fraction values. Furthermore, bioeffect modeling with RBE2(α/β) and EQD2(α/β) demonstrated the capacity to predict the surviving fraction of cells irradiated with acute and fractionated low-LET radiation, α particles and chronic exponentially decreasing dose rates of low-LET radiation. RBE2(α/β) is independent of absorbed dose for α-particle emitters and it provides a more logical framework for data reporting and conversion to equieffective dose than the conventional dose-dependent definition of RBE. Moreover, it provides a much needed foundation for the ongoing development of an α-particle dosimetry paradigm and will facilitate the use of tolerance dose data available from external beam radiation therapy, thereby helping to develop αRPT as a single modality as well as for combination therapies.
PMCID: PMC3984880  PMID: 24502376
13.  Development of Urinary Biomarkers for Internal Exposure by Cesium-137 Using a Metabolomics Approach in Mice 
Radiation research  2013;181(1):54-64.
Cesium-137 is a fission product of uranium and plutonium in nuclear reactors and is released in large quantities during nuclear explosions or detonation of an improvised device containing this isotope. This environmentally persistent radionuclide undergoes radioactive decay with the emission of beta particles as well as gamma radiation. Exposure to 137Cs at high doses can cause acute radiation sickness and increase risk for cancer and death. The serious health risks associated with 137Cs exposure makes it critical to understand how it affects human metabolism and whether minimally invasive and easily accessible samples such as urine and serum can be used to triage patients in case of a nuclear disaster or a radiologic event. In this study, we have focused on establishing a time-dependent metabolomic profile for urine collected from mice injected with 137CsCl. The samples were collected from control and exposed mice on days 2, 5, 20 and 30 after injection. The samples were then analyzed by ultra-performance liquid chromatography coupled to time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UPLC/TOFMS) and processed by an array of informatics and statistical tools. A total of 1,412 features were identified in ESI+ and ESI− modes from which 200 were determined to contribute significantly to the separation of metabolomic profiles of controls from those of the different treatment time points. The results of this study highlight the ease of use of the UPLC/TOFMS platform in finding urinary biomarkers for 137Cs exposure. Pathway analysis of the statistically significant metabolites suggests perturbations in several amino acid and fatty acid metabolism pathways. The results also indicate that 137Cs exposure causes: similar changes in the urinary excretion levels of taurine and citrate as seen with external-beam gamma radiation; causes no attenuation in the levels of hexanoylglycine and N-acetylspermidine; and has unique effects on the levels of isovalerylglycine and tiglylglycine.
PMCID: PMC4029349  PMID: 24377719
14.  Differential Expression of Homer1a in the Hippocampus and Cortex Likely Plays a Role in Radiation-Induced Brain Injury 
Radiation research  2013;181(1):21-32.
Fractionated partial or whole-brain irradiation is the primary treatment for metastatic brain tumors. Despite reducing tumor burden and increasing lifespan, progressive, irreversible cognitive impairment occurs in >50% of the patients who survive >6 months after fractionated whole-brain irradiation. The exact mechanism(s) responsible for this radiation-induced brain injury are unknown; however, preclinical studies suggest that radiation modulates the extracellular receptor kinase signaling pathway, which is associated with cognitive impairment in many neurological diseases. In the study reported here, we demonstrated that the extracellular receptor kinase transcriptionally-regulated early response gene, Homer1a, was up-regulated transiently in the hippocampus and down-regulated in the cortex of young adult male Fischer 344 X Brown Norway rats at 48 h after 40 Gy of fractionated whole-brain irradiation. Two months after fractionated whole-brain irradiation, these changes in Homer1a expression correlated with a down-regulation of the hippocampal glutamate receptor 1 and protein kinase Cγ, and an up-regulation of cortical glutamate receptor 1 and protein kinase Cγ. Two drugs that prevent radiation-induced cognitive impairment in rats, the angiotensin type-1 receptor blocker, L-158,809, and the angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor, ramipril, reversed the fractionated whole-brain irradiation-induced Homer1a expression at 48 h in the hippocampus and cortex and restored glutamate receptor 1 and protein kinase Cγ to the levels in shamirradiated controls at 2 months after fractionated whole-brain irradiation. These data indicate that Homer1a is, (1) a brain region specific regulator of radiation-induced brain injury, including cognitive impairment and (2) potentially a druggable target for preventing it.
PMCID: PMC4118588  PMID: 24377717
Radiation research  2014;182(2):123-125.
PMCID: PMC4275000  PMID: 25036983
16.  Acute and Fractionated Exposure to High-LET 56Fe HZE-Particle Radiation Both Result in Similar Long-Term Deficits in Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis 
Radiation research  2013;180(6):658-667.
Astronauts on multi-year interplanetary missions will be exposed to a low, chronic dose of high-energy, high-charge particles. Studies in rodents show acute, nonfractionated exposure to these particles causes brain changes such as fewer adult-generated hippocampal neurons and stem cells that may be detrimental to cognition and mood regulation and thus compromise mission success. However, the influence of a low, chronic dose of these particles on neurogenesis and stem cells is unknown. To examine the influence of galactic cosmic radiation on neurogenesis, adult-generated stem and progenitor cells in Nestin-CreERT2/R26R-YFP transgenic mice were inducibly labeled to allow fate tracking. Mice were then sham exposed or given one acute 100 cGy 56Fe-particle exposure or five fractionated 20 cGy 56Fe-particle exposures. Adult-generated hippocampal neurons and stem cells were quantified 24 h or 3 months later. Both acute and fractionated exposure decreased the amount of proliferating cells and immature neurons relative to sham exposure. Unexpectedly, neither acute nor fractionated exposure decreased the number of adult neural stem cells relative to sham expsoure. Our findings show that single and fractionated exposures of 56Fe-particle irradiation are similarly detrimental to adult-generated neurons. Implications for future missions and ground-based studies in space radiation are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3930069  PMID: 24320054
17.  Practical Advice on Calculating Confidence Intervals for Radioprotection Effects and Reducing Animal Numbers in Radiation Countermeasure Experiments 
Radiation research  2013;180(6):567-574.
The dose of a substance that causes death in P% of a population is called an LDP, where LD stands for lethal dose. In radiation research, a common LDP of interest is the radiation dose that kills 50% of the population by a specified time, i.e., lethal dose 50 or LD50. When comparing LD50 between two populations, relative potency is the parameter of interest. In radiation research, this is commonly known as the dose reduction factor (DRF). Unfortunately, statistical inference on dose reduction factor is seldom reported. We illustrate how to calculate confidence intervals for dose reduction factor, which may then be used for statistical inference. Further, most dose reduction factor experiments use hundreds, rather than tens of animals. Through better dosing strategies and the use of a recently available sample size formula, we also show how animal numbers may be reduced while maintaining high statistical power. The illustrations center on realistic examples comparing LD50 values between a radiation countermeasure group and a radiation-only control. We also provide easy-to-use spreadsheets for sample size calculations and confidence interval calculations, as well as SAS® and R code for the latter.
PMCID: PMC3955841  PMID: 24164553
18.  Oral Interleukin 11 as a Countermeasure to Lethal Total-Body Irradiation in a Murine Model 
Radiation research  2013;180(6):595-602.
Countermeasures against radiation are critically needed. Ideally, these measures would be easy to store, easy to administer and have minimal toxicity. We used oral delivery of interleukin 11 (IL11) in mice exposed to lethal doses of total-body irradiation (TBI). Animals were given IL11 by gavage at various daily doses beginning 24 h after TBI, which continued for 5 days. At a TBI of 9.0 Gy, mice treated with IL11 had a 70% survival at 30 days compared with control group survival of 25% (P = 0.035). At 10.0 Gy, treated animals had 50% survival at 30 days compared with no survivors in the control group. Treated animals had significant improvement in intestinal mucosal surface area and crypt survival. In addition bacterial translocation of coliform bacteria was significantly less in the treated animals. Systemic absorption of IL11 was low in treated animals and effects on the hematopoietic cells were not seen. Serum citrulline levels rebounded significantly faster after irradiation in the IL11 treated animals, indicating quicker recovery of small intestine health. These data suggest that IL11 given orally protects the intestinal mucosa from radiation damage and that this compound is beneficial as a mitigating agent even when started 24 h after radiation exposure.
PMCID: PMC4030300  PMID: 24219324
19.  Widespread Decreased Expression of Immune Function Genes in Human Peripheral Blood Following Radiation Exposure 
Radiation research  2013;180(6):575-583.
We report a large-scale reduced expression of genes in pathways related to cell-type specific immunity functions that emerges from microarray analysis 48 h after ex vivo γ-ray irradiation (0, 0.5, 2, 5, 8 Gy) of human peripheral blood from five donors. This response is similar to that seen in patients at 24 h after the start of total-body irradiation and strengthens the rationale for the ex vivo model as an adjunct to human in vivo studies. The most marked response was in genes associated with natural killer (NK) cell immune functions, reflecting a relative loss of NK cells from the population. T- and B-cell mediated immunity genes were also significantly represented in the radiation response. Combined with our previous studies, a single gene expression signature was able to predict radiation dose range with 97% accuracy at times from 6–48 h after exposure. Gene expression signatures that may report on the loss or functional deactivation of blood cell subpopulations after radiation exposure may be particularly useful both for triage biodosimetry and for monitoring the effect of radiation mitigating treatments.
PMCID: PMC4068286  PMID: 24168352
20.  Defining Molecular Signature of Pro-Immunogenic Radiotherapy Targets in Human Prostate Cancer Cells 
Radiation research  2014;182(2):139-148.
To understand the impact of clinically relevant radiation therapy (RT) on tumor immune gene expression and to utilize the changes that occur during treatment to improve cancer treatment outcome, we examined how immune response genes are modulated in prostate cancer cells of varying p53 status. LNCaP (p53 wild-type), PC3 (p53 null) and DU145 (p53 mutant) cells received a 10 Gy single dose or 1 Gy × 10 multifractionated radiation dose to simulate hypofractionated and conventionally fractionated prostate radiotherapy. Total RNA was isolated 24 h after multi-fractionated radiation treatment and single-dose treatments and subjected to microarray analysis and later validated by RT-PCR. RT-PCR was utilized to identify total-dose inflection points for significantly upregulated genes in response to multifractionated radiation therapy. Radiation-induced damage-associated molecular pattern molecules (DAMPs) and cytokine analyses were performed using bioluminescence and ELISA. Multifractionated doses activated immune response genes more robustly than single-dose treatment, with a relatively larger number of immune genes upregulated in PC3 compared to DU145 and LNCaP cells. The inflection point of multifractionated radiation-induced immune genes in PC3 cells was observed in the range of 8–10 Gy total radiation dose. Although both multifractionated and single-dose radiation-induced proinflammatory DAMPs and positively modulated the cytokine environment, the changes were of higher magnitude with multifractionated therapy. The findings of this study together with the gene expression data suggest that cells subjected to multifractionated radiation treatment would promote productive immune cell–tumor cell interactions.
PMCID: PMC4216662  PMID: 25003313
21.  Enalapril Mitigates Radiation-Induced Pneumonitis and Pulmonary Fibrosis if Started 35 Days after Whole-Thorax Irradiation 
Radiation research  2013;180(5):546-552.
Victims of a radiological attack or nuclear accident may receive high-dose, heterogeneous exposures from radiation to the chest that lead to lung damage. Our goal is to develop countermeasures to mitigate such injuries. We used WAG/RijCmcr rats receiving 13 Gy to the whole thorax to induce pulmonary fibrosis within 210 days. The angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor enalapril was evaluated as a mitigator of these injuries at two doses (18 and 36 mg/m2/day) and 8 schedules: starting at 7, 35, 70, 105 and 140 days and continuing to 210 days or starting at 7 days and stopping at 30, 60 or 90 days after whole-thorax irradiation. The earliest start date at 7 days after irradiation would provide an adequate window of time for triage and dosimetry. Survival after 35 days, as permitted by our Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) was also recorded as a primary end point of pneumonitis. Pulmonary fibrosis was evaluated using the Sircol biochemical assay to measure lung collagen. Our results indicated that a short course of either dose of enalapril from 7–90 days improved survival. However, pulmonary fibrosis was only mitigated by the higher dose of enalapril (36 mg/m2/day). The latest effective start date for the drug was 35 days after irradiation. These results indicate that ACE inhibitors can be started at least a month after irradiation for mitigation of pneumonitis and/or pulmonary fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC3895940  PMID: 24131041
22.  Early Tumor Development Captured Through Nondestructive, High Resolution Differential Phase Contrast X-ray Imaging 
Radiation research  2013;180(5):448-454.
Although a considerable amount is known about molecular dysregulations in later stages of tumor progression, much less is known about the regulated processes supporting initial tumor growth. Insight into such processes can provide a fuller understanding of carcinogenesis, with implications for cancer treatment and risk assessment. Work from our laboratory suggests that organized substructure emerges during tumor formation. The goal here was to examine the feasibility of using state-of-the-art differential phase contrast X-ray imaging to investigate density differentials that evolve during early tumor development. To this end the beamline for TOmographic Microscopy and Coherent rAdiology experimenTs (TOMCAT) at the Swiss Light Source was used to examine the time-dependent assembly of substructure in developing tumors. Differential phase contrast (DPC) imaging based on grating interferometry as implemented with TOMCAT, offers sensitivity to density differentials within soft tissues and a unique combination of high resolution coupled with a large field of view that permits the accommodation of larger tissue sizes (1 cm in diameter), difficult with other imaging modalities.
PMCID: PMC3925470  PMID: 24125488
23.  Amelioration of Radiation-Induced Pulmonary Fibrosis by a Water-Soluble Bifunctional Sulfoxide Radiation Mitigator (MMS350) 
Radiation research  2013;180(5):474-490.
A water-soluble ionizing radiation mitigator would have considerable advantages for the management of acute and chronic effects of ionizing radiation. We report that a novel oxetanyl sulfoxide (MMS350) is effective both as a protector and a mitigator of clonal mouse bone marrow stromal cell lines in vitro, and is an effective in vivo mitigator when administered 24 h after 9.5 Gy (LD100/30) total-body irradiation of C57BL/6NHsd mice, significantly improving survival (P =0.0097). Furthermore, MMS350 (400 μM) added weekly to drinking water after 20 Gy thoracic irradiation significantly decreased: expression of pulmonary inflammatory and profibrotic gene transcripts and proteins; migration into the lungs of bone marrow origin luciferase+/GFP+ (luc+/GFP+) fibroblast progenitors (in both luc+ marrow chimeric and luc+ stromal cell line injected mouse models) and decreased radiation-induced pulmonary fibrosis (P < 0.0001). This nontoxic and orally administered small molecule may be an effective therapeutic in clinical radiotherapy and as a counter measure against the acute and chronic effects of ionizing radiation.
PMCID: PMC3894523  PMID: 24125487
24.  Divergent Modification of Low-Dose 56Fe-Particle and Proton Radiation on Skeletal Muscle 
Radiation research  2013;180(5):455-464.
It is unknown whether loss of skeletal muscle mass and function experienced by astronauts during space flight could be augmented by ionizing radiation (IR), such as low-dose high-charge and energy (HZE) particles or low-dose high-energy proton radiation. In the current study adult mice were irradiated whole-body with either a single dose of 15 cGy of 1 GeV/n 56Fe-particle or with a 90 cGy proton of 1 GeV/n proton particles. Both ionizing radiation types caused alterations in the skeletal muscle cytoplasmic Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) homeostasis. 56Fe-particle irradiation also caused a reduction of depolarization-evoked Ca2+ release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR). The increase in the [Ca2+]i was detected as early as 24 h after 56Fe-particle irradiation, while effects of proton irradiation were only evident at 72 h. In both instances [Ca2+]i returned to baseline at day 7 after irradiation. All 56Fe-particle irradiated samples revealed a significant number of centrally localized nuclei, a histologic manifestation of regenerating muscle, 7 days after irradiation. Neither unirradiated control or proton-irradiated samples exhibited such a phenotype. Protein analysis revealed significant increase in the phosphorylation of Akt, Erk1/2 and rpS6k on day 7 in 56Fe-particle irradiated skeletal muscle, but not proton or unirradiated skeletal muscle, suggesting activation of pro-survival signaling. Our findings suggest that a single low-dose 56Fe-particle or proton exposure is sufficient to affect Ca2+ homeostasis in skeletal muscle. However, only 56Fe-particle irradiation led to the appearance of central nuclei and activation of pro-survival pathways, suggesting an ongoing muscle damage/recovery process.
PMCID: PMC4152935  PMID: 24131063
25.  The Optimal Partnership of Radiation and Immunotherapy: from Preclinical Studies to Clinical Translation 
Radiation research  2014;182(2):170-181.
The main role of the immune system is to restore tissue homeostasis when altered by pathogenic processes, including neoplastic transformation. Immune-mediated tumor rejection has been recognized as an extrinsic tumor suppressor mechanism that tumors need to overcome to progress. By the time a tumor becomes clinically apparent it has successfully escaped immune control by establishing an immunosuppressive microenvironment. Ionizing radiation applied locally to a tumor alters these tumor-host interactions. Accumulating evidence indicates that standard therapeutic doses of radiation have the potential to recover tumor immunogenicity and convert the tumor into an in situ personalized vaccine. Radiotherapy induces an immunogenic tumor cell death promoting cross-presentation of tumor-derived antigens by dendritic cells to T cells. In addition, radiotherapy stimulates chemokine-mediated recruitment of effector T cells to the tumor, and cellular recognition and killing by T cells that is facilitated by upregulation of major histocompatibility antigens, NKG2D ligands, adhesion molecules and death receptors. Despite these effects, radiotherapy alone is only rarely capable of generating enough proinflammatory signals to sufficiently overcome suppression, as it can also activate immunosuppressive factors. However, our group and others have shown that when combined with targeted immunotherapy agents radiotherapy significantly contributes to a therapeutically effective anti-tumor immune response. To illustrate this partnership between radiation and immunotherapy we will discuss as an example our experience in preclinical models and the molecular mechanisms identified. Additionally, the clinical translation of these combinations will be discussed.
PMCID: PMC4184032  PMID: 24937779

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