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1.  Amelioration of Radiation-Induced Oral Cavity Mucositis and Distant Bone Marrow Suppression in Fanconi Anemia Fancd2−/− (FVB/N) Mice by Intraoral GS-Nitroxide JP4-039 
Radiation research  2014;182(1):35-49.
The altered DNA damage response pathway in patients with Fanconi anemia (FA) may increase the toxicity of clinical radiotherapy. We quantitated oral cavity mucositis in irradiated Fanconi anemia Fancd2−/− mice, comparing this to Fancd2+/− and Fancd2+/+ mice, and we measured distant bone marrow suppression and quantitated the effect of the intraoral radioprotector GS-nitroxide, JP4-039 in F15 emulsion. We found that FA mice were more susceptible to radiation injury and that protection from radiation injury by JP4-039/F15 was observed at all radiation doses. Adult 10–12-week-old mice, of FVB/N background Fancd2−/−, Fancd2+/− and Fancd2+/+ were head and neck irradiated with 24, 26, 28 or 30 Gy (large fraction sizes typical of stereotactic radiosurgery treatments) and subgroups received intraoral JP4-039 (0.4 mg/mouse in 100 μL F15 liposome emulsion) preirradiation. On day 2 or 5 postirradiation, mice were sacrificed, tongue tissue and femur marrow were excised for quantitation of radiation-induced stress response, inflammatory and antioxidant gene transcripts, histopathology and assay for femur marrow colony-forming hematopoietic progenitor cells. Fancd2−/− mice had a significantly higher percentage of oral mucosal ulceration at day 5 after 26 Gy irradiation (59.4 ± 8.2%) compared to control Fancd2+/+ mice (21.7 ± 2.9%, P = 0.0063). After 24 Gy irradiation, Fancd2−/− mice had a higher oral cavity percentage of tongue ulceration compared to Fancd2+/+ mice irradiated with higher doses of 26 Gy (P = 0.0123). Baseline and postirradiation oral cavity gene transcripts were altered in Fancd2−/− mice compared to Fancd2+/+ controls. Fancd2−/− mice had decreased baseline femur marrow CFU-GM, BFUe and CFU-GEMM, which further decreased after 24 or 26 Gy head and neck irradiation. These changes were not seen in head- and neck-irradiated Fancd2+/+ mice. In radiosensitive Fancd2−/− mice, biomarkers of both local oral cavity and distant marrow radiation toxicity were ameliorated by intraoral JP4-039/F15. We propose that Fancd2−/− mice are a valuable radiosensitive animal model system, which can be used to evaluate potential radioprotective agents.
PMCID: PMC4101533  PMID: 24932534
2.  Novel Synthetic (S,S) and (R,R)-Secoisolariciresinol Diglucosides (SDGs) Protect Naked Plasmid and Genomic DNA From Gamma Radiation Damage 
Radiation research  2014;182(1):102-110.
Secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG) is the major lignan in wholegrain flaxseed. However, extraction methods are complex and are associated with low yield and high costs. Using a novel synthetic pathway, our group succeeded in chemically synthesizing SDG (S,S and R,R enantiomers), which faithfully recapitulates the properties of their natural counterparts, possessing strong antioxidant and free radical scavenging properties. This study further extends initial findings by now investigating the DNA-radioprotective properties of the synthetic SDG enantiomers compared to the commercial SDG. DNA radioprotection was assessed by cell-free systems such as: (a) plasmid relaxation assay to determine the extent of the supercoiled (SC) converted to open-circular (OC) plasmid DNA (pBR322) after exposure of the plasmid to gamma radiation; and (b) determining the extent of genomic DNA fragmentation. Exposure of plasmid DNA to 25 Gy of γ radiation resulted in decreased supercoiled form and increased open-circular form, indicating radiation-induced DNA damage. Synthetic SDG (S,S) and SDG (R,R), and commercial SDG at concentrations of 25–250 μM significantly and equipotently reduced the radiation-induced supercoiled to open-circular plasmid DNA in a dose-dependent conversion. In addition, exposure of calf thymus DNA to 50 Gy of gamma radiation resulted in DNA fragments of low-molecular weight (<6,000 bps), which was prevented in a dose-dependence manner by all synthetic and natural SDG enantomers, at concentrations as low as 0.5 μM. These novel results demonstrated that synthetic SDG (S,S) and SDG (R,R) isomers and commercial SDG possess DNA-radioprotective properties. Such properties along with their antioxidant and free radical scavenging activity, reported earlier, suggest that SDGs are promising candidates for radioprotection for normal tissue damage as a result of accidental exposure during radiation therapy for cancer treatment.
PMCID: PMC4130221  PMID: 24945894
3.  Radiosensitization of Pancreatic Cancer Cells by Metformin through the AMPK Pathway 
Radiation research  2014;182(1):50-59.
Pancreatic cancer is relatively radioresistant, however, radiotherapy has been shown to provide efficacy in the treatment of local disease. To increase the effectiveness of radiotherapy in pancreatic cancer, radiosensitizing drugs are under development. In this study, we investigated the radiosensitizing activity of the anti-diabetic drug metformin on pancreatic cancer cells in vitro. We demonstrated that metformin radiosensitized MiaPaCa-2 and Panc1 cells with radiation enhancement ratios (ER) ranging from 1.33–1.45 with metformin concentrations of 30–100 μM, and in addition, we showed that metformin sensitized cells to gemcitabine alone or in combination with radiation treatment. In addition, we found that pancreatic cancer stem cell-like cells showed enhanced radiosensitization in a tumorsphere assay with a REF of 1.66. At these radiosensitizing doses, metformin alone had low toxicity (as shown by >75% clonogenic survival) and did not affect cell cycle. The combination of metformin and radiation yielded greater numbers of γ-H2AX foci after 1 h compared to radiation alone, suggesting increased DNA damage signaling. Examination of the AMPK pathway showed that pharmacological inhibition of AMPK signaling or RNAi of AMPKα1 reversed metformin-mediated radiosensitization. These studies show that metformin radiosensitization of pancreatic cancer cells at micromolar concentration acts through AMPK and may affect DNA damage signaling. The data indicate that metformin may increase the efficacy of radiation therapy for pancreatic cancer.
PMCID: PMC4131724  PMID: 24909911
4.  Early-Delayed, Radiation-Induced Cognitive Deficits in Adult Rats are Heterogeneous and Age-Dependent 
Radiation research  2014;182(1):60-71.
Patients treated with whole-brain irradiation often develop cognitive deficits that are presumed to result from normal tissue injury. Age is a risk factor for these side effects. We compared the cognitive effects of fractionated whole-brain irradiation (300 kV X rays) in rats irradiated either as young adults or in middle age. A deficit in object memory was apparent at 3 months in rats irradiated as young adults, however, no comparable deficit was apparent in rats irradiated in middle age. In addition, the deficit in object memory in young adults was no longer apparent at 6 and 12 months after fractionated whole-brain irradiation and no radiation-induced deficit was detectable in a spatial memory task at any time, regardless of age at time of irradiation. Thus, clinically relevant fractionated whole-brain irradiation in adult rats resulted in early-delayed cognitive changes that were heterogeneous, transient and age-dependent. The results of the current and previous studies of radiation-induced cognitive changes support the continued investigation and validation of rodent models of radiation-induced brain injury, which are critical for developing and testing new therapies for treatment-induced cognitive dysfunction in cancer survivors.
PMCID: PMC4142347  PMID: 24937782
5.  Exposure to Low-Dose 56Fe-Ion Radiation Induces Long-Term Epigenetic Alterations in Mouse Bone Marrow Hematopoietic Progenitor and Stem Cells 
Radiation research  2014;182(1):92-101.
There is an increasing need to better understand the long-term health effects of high-linear energy transfer (LET) radiation due to exposure during space missions, as well as its increasing use in clinical treatments. Previous studies have indicated that exposure to 56Fe heavy ions increases the incidence of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in mice but the underlying molecular mechanisms remain elusive. Epigenetic alterations play a role in radiation-induced genomic instability and the initiation and progression of AML. In this study, we assessed the effects of low-dose 56Fe-ion irradiation on epigenetic alterations in bone marrow mononuclear cells (BM-MNCs) and hematopoietic progenitor and stem cells (HPSCs). Exposure to 56Fe ions (600 MeV, 0.1, 0.2 and 0.4 Gy) resulted in significant epigenetic alterations involving methylation of DNA, the DNA methylation machinery and expression of repetitive elements. Four weeks after irradiation, these changes were primarily confined to HPSCs and were exhibited as dose-dependent hypermethylation of LINE1 and SINE B1 repetitive elements [4.2-fold increase in LINE1 (P < 0.001) and 7.6-fold increase in SINE B1 (P < 0.01) after exposure to 0.4 Gy; n = 5]. Epigenetic alterations were persistent and detectable for at least 22 weeks after exposure, when significant loss of global DNA hypomethylation (1.9-fold, P < 0.05), decreased expression of Dnmt1 (1.9-fold, P < 0.01), and increased expression of LINE1 and SINE B1 repetitive elements (2.8-fold, P < 0.001 for LINE1 and 1.9-fold, P < 0.05 for SINE B1; n = 5) were observed after exposure to 0.4 Gy. In contrast, exposure to 56Fe ions did not result in accumulation of increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and DNA damage, exhibited as DNA strand breaks. Furthermore, no significant alterations in cellular senescence and apoptosis were detected in HPSCs after exposure to 56Fe-ion radiation. These findings suggest that epigenetic reprogramming is possibly involved in the development of radiation-induced genomic instability and thus, may have a causative role in the development of AML.
PMCID: PMC4267532  PMID: 24960414
6.  Regulation of Ionizing Radiation-Induced Adhesion of Breast Cancer Cells to Fibronectin by Alpha5beta1 Integrin 
Radiation research  2014;181(6):650-658.
Ionizing radiation (IR) is commonly used for cancer therapy, however, its potential influence on cancer metastatic potential remains controversial. In this study, we elucidated the role of integrins in regulation of IR-altered adhesion between breast cancer cells and extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, which is a key step in the initial phase of metastasis. Our data suggest that the extent of effect that ionizing radiation had on cell adhesion depended on the genetic background of the breast cancer cells. Ionizing radiation was a better adhesion inducer for p53-mutated cells, such as MDA-MB-231 cells, than for p53 wild-type cells, such as MCF-7 cells. While IR-induced adhesions between MDA-MB-231 cells to fibronectin, laminin, collagen I and collagen IV, only blocking of the adhesion between α5β1 integrin and fibronectin using anti-α5β1 integrin antibody could completely inhibit the radiation-induced adhesion of the cells. A soluble Arg-Gly-Asp peptide, the binding motif for fibronectin binding integrins, could also reduce the adhesion of the cells to fibronectin with or without ionizing radiation exposure. The inhibition of the cell-fibronectin interaction also affected, but did not always correlate with, transwell migration of the cancer cells. In addition, our data showed that the total expression of α5 integrin and surface expression of α5β1 integrin were increased in the cells treated with ionizing radiation. The increased surface expression of α5β1 integrin, along with the adhesion between the cells and fibronectin, could be inhibited by both ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) and Rad3-related (ATR) kinase inhibitors. These results suggested that ATM/ATR-mediated surface expression of α5β1 integrin might play a central role in regulation of ionizing radiation-altered adhesion.
PMCID: PMC4101885  PMID: 24785587
7.  Linking the History of Radiation Biology to the Hallmarks of Cancer 
Radiation research  2014;181(6):561-577.
Hanahan and Weinberg recently updated their conceptual framework of the “Hallmarks of Cancer”. The original article, published in 2000, is among the most highly cited reviews in the field of oncology. The goal of this review is to highlight important discoveries in radiation biology that pertain to the Hallmarks. We identified early studies that exemplified how ionizing radiation affects the hallmarks or how radiation was used experimentally to advance the understanding of key hallmarks. A literature search was performed to obtain relevant primary research, and topics were assigned to a particular hallmark to allow an organized, chronological account of the radiobiological advancements. The hallmarks are reviewed in an order that flows from cellular to microenvironmental effects.
PMCID: PMC4072211  PMID: 24811865
8.  Potential for Adult-Based Epidemiological Studies to Characterize Overall Cancer Risks Associated with a Lifetime of CT Scans 
Radiation research  2014;181(6):584-591.
Recent epidemiological studies have suggested that radiation exposure from pediatric CT scanning is associated with small excess cancer risks. However, the majority of CT scans are performed on adults, and most radiation-induced cancers appear during middle or old age, in the same age range as background cancers. Consequently, a logical next step is to investigate the effects of CT scanning in adulthood on lifetime cancer risks by conducting adult-based, appropriately designed epidemiological studies. Here we estimate the sample size required for such studies to detect CT-associated risks. This was achieved by incorporating different age-, sex-, time- and cancer type-dependent models of radiation carcinogenesis into an in silico simulation of a population-based cohort study. This approach simulated individual histories of chest and abdominal CT exposures, deaths and cancer diagnoses. The resultant sample sizes suggest that epidemiological studies of realistically sized cohorts can detect excess lifetime cancer risks from adult CT exposures. For example, retrospective analysis of CT exposure and cancer incidence data from a population-based cohort of 0.4 to 1.3 million (depending on the carcinogenic model) CT-exposed UK adults, aged 25–65 in 1980 and followed until 2015, provides 80% power for detecting cancer risks from chest and abdominal CT scans.
PMCID: PMC4157352  PMID: 24828111
9.  Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Oxygen-Dependent Radiosensitivity 
Radiation research  2015;183(5):487-496.
Molecular oxygen has long been recognized as a powerful radiosensitizer that enhances the cell-killing efficiency of ionizing radiation. Radiosensitization by oxygen occurs at very low concentrations with the half-maximum radiosensitization at approximately 3 mmHg. However, robust hypoxia-induced signal transduction can be induced at <15 mmHg and can elicit a wide range of cellular responses that will affect therapy response as well as malignant progression. Great strides have been made, especially since the 1990s, toward identification and characterization of the oxygen-regulated molecular pathways that affect tumor response to ionizing radiation. In this review, we will discuss the current advances in our understanding of oxygen-dependent molecular modification and cellular signal transduction and their impact on tumor response to therapy. We will specifically address mechanistic distinctions between radiobiological hypoxia (0–3 mmHg) and pathological hypoxia (3–15 mmHg). We also propose a paradigm that hypoxia increases radioresistance by maintaining the cancer stem cell phenotype.
PMCID: PMC4441855  PMID: 25938770
10.  Inactivation of NADPH Oxidases NOX4 and NOX5 Protects Human Primary Fibroblasts from Ionizing Radiation-Induced DNA Damage 
Radiation research  2015;183(3):262-270.
Human exposure to ionizing radiation from medical procedures has increased sharply in the last three decades. Recent epidemiological studies suggest a direct relationship between exposure to ionizing radiation and health problems, including cancer incidence. Therefore, minimizing the impact of radiation exposure in patients has become a priority in the development of future clinical practices. Crucial players in radiation-induced DNA damage include reactive oxygen species (ROS), but the sources of these have remained elusive. To the best of our knowledge, we show here for the first time that two members of the ROS-generating NADPH oxidase family (NOXs), NOX4 and NOX5, are involved in radiation-induced DNA damage. Depleting these two NOXs in human primary fibroblasts resulted in reduced levels of DNA damage as measured by levels of radiation-induced foci, a marker of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) and the comet assay coupled with increased cell survival. NOX involvement was substantiated with fulvene-5, a NOXs-specific inhibitor. Moreover, fulvene-5 mitigated radiation-induced DNA damage in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells ex vivo. Our results provide evidence that the inactivation of NOXs protects cells from radiation-induced DNA damage and cell death. These findings suggest that NOXs inhibition may be considered as a future pharmacological target to help minimize the negative effects of radiation exposure for millions of patients each year.
PMCID: PMC4423734  PMID: 25706776
11.  Metformin Exhibits Radiation Countermeasures Efficacy When Used Alone or in Combination with Sulfhydryl Containing Drugs 
Radiation research  2014;181(5):464-470.
Metformin, a biguanide drug used in the treatment of type II diabetes, was evaluated alone and in combination with amifostine, captopril, MESNA or N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) for its ability to protect when administered 24 h after irradiation. Mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEF), human microvascular endothelial cells (HMEC) and SA-NH mouse sarcoma cells were exposed to 4 Gy in vitro. C3H mice were exposed to 7 Gy and evaluated utilizing an endogenous spleen colony assay system. Amifostine and WR1065, administered 30 min prior to irradiation, were used as positive controls. Treatment of MEF, HMEC and SA-NH cells with metformin elevated survival levels by 1.4-, 1.5- and 1.3-fold compared to 1.9-, 1.8- and 1.6-fold for these same cells treated with WR1065, respectively. Metformin (250 mg/kg) was effective in protecting splenic cells from a 7 Gy dose in vivo (protection factor = 1.8). Amifostine (400 mg/kg), administered 30 min prior to irradiation resulted in a 2.6-fold survival elevation, while metformin administered 24 h after irradiation in combination with NAC (400 mg/kg), MESNA (300 mg/kg) or captopril (200 mg/kg) enhanced survival by 2.6-, 2.8- and 2.4-fold, respectively. Each of these agents has been approved by the FDA for human use and each has a well characterized human safety profile. Metformin alone or in combination with selected sulfhydryl agents possesses radioprotective properties when administered 24 h after radiation exposure comparable to that observed for amifostine administered 30 min prior to irradiation making it a potentially useful agent for radiation countermeasures use.
PMCID: PMC4080797  PMID: 24754562
12.  Military Participants at U.S. Atmospheric Nuclear Weapons Testing— Methodology for Estimating Dose and Uncertainty 
Radiation research  2014;181(5):471-484.
Methods were developed to calculate individual estimates of exposure and dose with associated uncertainties for a sub-cohort (1,857) of 115,329 military veterans who participated in at least one of seven series of atmospheric nuclear weapons tests or the TRINITY shot carried out by the United States. The tests were conducted at the Pacific Proving Grounds and the Nevada Test Site. Dose estimates to specific organs will be used in an epidemiological study to investigate leukemia and male breast cancer. Previous doses had been estimated for the purpose of compensation and were generally high-sided to favor the veteran's claim for compensation in accordance with public law. Recent efforts by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to digitize the historical records supporting the veterans’ compensation assessments make it possible to calculate doses and associated uncertainties. Our approach builds upon available film badge dosimetry and other measurement data recorded at the time of the tests and incorporates detailed scenarios of exposure for each veteran based on personal, unit, and other available historical records. Film badge results were available for approximately 25% of the individuals, and these results assisted greatly in reconstructing doses to unbadged persons and in developing distributions of dose among military units. This article presents the methodology developed to estimate doses for selected cancer cases and a 1% random sample of the total cohort of veterans under study.
PMCID: PMC4082990  PMID: 24758578
13.  The Human Salivary Proteome is Radiation Responsive 
Radiation research  2014;181(5):521-530.
In the event of a nuclear incident in a heavily populated area, the surge in demand for medical evaluation will likely overwhelm our emergency care system, compromising our ability to care for victims with life-threatening injuries or exposures. Therefore, there exists a need for a rapidly deployable biological assay for radiation exposure that can be performed in the field by individuals with little to no medical training. Saliva is an attractive biofluid for this purpose, due to the relative ease of its collection and the wide array of biomolecules it contains. To determine whether the human salivary proteome is responsive to ionizing radiation exposure, we characterized the abundances of salivary proteins in humans before and after total body irradiation. Using an assay panel targeting 90 analytes (growth factors, chemokines and cytokines), we identified proteins that were significantly radiation responsive in human saliva. The responses of three proteins (monocyte chemo-attractant protein 1, interleukin 8 and intercellular adhesion molecule 1) were confirmed using independent immunoassay platforms and then verified and further characterized in 130 saliva samples from a completely independent set of 38 patients undergoing total body irradiation. The results demonstrate the potential for detecting radiation exposure based on analysis of human saliva.
PMCID: PMC4110973  PMID: 24720749
14.  Long-Term Dose Response of Trabecular Bone in Mice to Proton Radiation 
Radiation research  2008;169(6):607-614.
Astronauts on exploratory missions will experience a complex environment, including microgravity and radiation. While the deleterious effects of unloading on bone are well established, fewer studies have focused on the effects of radiation. We previously demonstrated that 2 Gy of ionizing radiation has deleterious effects on trabecular bone in mice 4 months after exposure. The present study investigated the skeletal response after total doses of proton radiation that astronauts may be exposed to during a solar particle event. We exposed mice to 0.5, 1 or 2 Gy of whole-body proton radiation and killed them humanely 117 days later. Tibiae and femora were analyzed using microcomputed tomography, mechanical testing, mineral composition and quantitative histomorphometry. Relative to control mice, mice exposed to 2 Gy had significant differences in trabecular bone volume fraction (−20%), trabecular separation (+11%), and trabecular volumetric bone mineral density (−19%). Exposure to 1 Gy radiation induced a nonsignificant trend in trabecular bone volume fraction (−13%), while exposure to 0.5 Gy resulted in no differences. No response was detected in cortical bone. Further analysis of the 1-Gy mice using synchrotron microCT revealed a significantly lower trabecular bone volume fraction (−13%) than in control mice. Trabecular bone loss 4 months after exposure to 1 Gy highlights the importance of further examination of how space radiation affects bone.
PMCID: PMC4416087  PMID: 18494551
15.  The mTOR Inhibitor Rapamycin Suppresses DNA Double-Strand Break Repair 
Radiation research  2010;175(2):214-224.
mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) signaling plays a key role in the development of many tumor types. Therefore, mTOR is an attractive target for cancer therapeutics. Although mTOR inhibitors are thought to have radiosensitization activity, the molecular bases remain largely unknown. Here we show that treating MCF7 breast cancer cells with rapamycin (an mTOR inhibitor) results in significant suppression of homologous recombination (HR) and nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ), two major mechanisms required for repairing ionizing radiation-induced DNA DSBs. We observed that rapamycin impaired recruitment of BRCA1 and Rad51 to DNA repair foci, both essential for HR. Moreover, consistent with the suppressive role of rapamycin on both HR and NHEJ, persistent radiation-induced DSBs were detected in cells pretreated with rapamycin. Furthermore, the frequency of chromosome and chromatid breaks was increased in cells treated with rapamycin before and after irradiation. Thus our results show that radiosensitization by mTOR inhibitors occurs via disruption of the major two DNA DSB repair pathways.
PMCID: PMC4412148  PMID: 21268715
16.  Low- and high-LET radiation drives clonal expansion of lung progenitor cells in vivo 
Radiation research  2015;183(1):124-132.
Abundant populations of epithelial progenitor cells maintain the epithelium along the proximal-to-distal axis of the airway. Exposure of lung tissue to ionizing radiation leads to tissue remodeling and potential cancer initiation or progression. However, little is known about the effects of ionizing radiation on airway epithelial progenitor cells. We hypothesized that ionizing radiation exposure will alter the behavior of airway epithelial progenitor cells in a radiation dose- and quality-dependent manner. To address this hypothesis, we cultured primary airway epithelial cells isolated from mice exposed to various doses of 320 kVp X-ray or 600 MeV/nucleon 56Fe ions in a 3D epithelial-fibroblast co-culture system. Colony-forming efficiency of the airway epithelial progenitor cells was assessed at culture day 14. In vivo clonogenic and proliferative potentials of airway epithelial progenitor cells were measured after exposure to ionizing radiation by lineage tracing and IdU incorporation. Exposure to both X-rays and 56Fe resulted in a dose dependent decrease in the ability of epithelial progenitors to form colonies in vitro. In vivo evidence for increased clonogenic expansion of epithelial progenitors was observed after exposure to both X-rays and 56Fe. Interestingly, we found no significant increase in the epithelial proliferative index, indicating that ionizing radiation does not promote increased turnover of the airway epithelium. Therefore, we propose a model in which radiation induces a dose-dependent decrease in the pool of available progenitor cells, leaving fewer progenitors able to maintain the airway long-term. This work provides novel insights into the effects of ionizing radiation exposure on airway epithelial progenitor cell behavior.
PMCID: PMC4409869  PMID: 25564721
lung; epithelium; stem cell; radiation quality; 3D co-culture; proliferation
17.  Proton Irradiation Augments the Suppression of Tumor Progression Observed with Advanced Age 
Radiation research  2014;181(3):272-283.
Proton radiation is touted for improved tumor targeting, over standard gamma radiation, due to the physical advantages of ion beams for radiotherapy. Recent studies from our laboratory demonstrate that in addition to these targeting advantages, proton irradiation can inhibit angiogenic and immune factors critical to “hallmark” processes that impact cancer progression, thereby modulating tumor development. Outside the therapeutic utilization of protons, high-energy protons constitute a principal component of galactic cosmic rays and thus are a consideration in carcinogenesis risk for space flight. Given that proton irradiation modulates fundamental biological processes known to decrease with aging (e.g. angiogenesis and immunogenicity), we investigated how proton irradiation impacts tumor advancement as a function of host age, a question with both therapeutic and carcinogenesis implications. Tumor lag time and growth dynamics were tracked, after injection of murine Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC) cells into syngeneic adolescent (68 day) vs. old (736 day) C57BL/6 mice with or without coincident irradiation. Tumor growth was suppressed in old compared to adolescent mice. These differences were further modulated by proton irradiation (1 GeV), with increased inhibition and a significant radiation-altered molecular fingerprint evident in tumors grown in old mice. Through global transcriptome analysis, TGFβ1 and TGFβ2 were determined to be key players that contributed to the tumor dynamics observed. These findings suggest that old hosts exhibit a reduced capacity to support tumor advancement, which can be further reduced by proton irradiation.
PMCID: PMC4406472  PMID: 24568128
18.  Novel Synthetic SOD/Catalase Mimetics Can Mitigate Capillary Endothelial Cell Apoptosis Caused by Ionizing Radiation 
Radiation research  2010;173(6):748-759.
Numerous in vitro and in vivo studies have shown that the endothelial cells of the microvasculature of the lung and kidney are damaged by exposure to ionizing radiation, and this sustained endothelial cell injury is involved in the early and late radiation effects observed in these tissues. It is well accepted that ionizing radiation causes the generation of reactive oxygen species during exposure that results in damage to DNA and cellular organelles. It is more controversial, however, whether additional biochemical events or long-lived radicals occur and persist postirradiation that amplify and initiate new forms of cellular damage. Two families of Eukarion (EUK) compounds have been synthesized that possess superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase and peroxidase activities. The Mn porphyrins are available orally whereas the salen Mn complexes are administered by injection. In the present study we have examined the ability of these SOD/catalase mimetics to prevent apoptosis of endothelial cells when administered 1 h postirradiation (mitigation). A range of salen Mn complex (EUK-189 and EUK-207) and Mn porphyrins (EUK-418, -423, -425, -450, -451, -452, -453) were used to treat endothelial cells 1 h after the cells received 2–20 Gy ionizing radiation in vitro. Two lead compounds, EUK-207 at a dose of 30 μM and EUK-451 at a dose of 10 μM, exhibited low toxicity and mitigated radiation-induced apoptosis. Future animal studies will test whether these compounds protect when administered after radiation exposure as would be done after a radiological accident or a terrorism event.
PMCID: PMC4405254  PMID: 20518654
19.  Focal Therapeutic Irradiation Induces an Early Transient Increase in Bone Glycation 
Radiation research  2014;181(4):439-443.
Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are an abnormal modification of the collagenous matrix in bone, and their accumulation contributes to alteration of mechanical properties. Using a mouse model of focal external radiotherapy, we quantified the time-dependent changes in the glycation of bone collagen following unilateral hindlimb exposure to 4 daily fractions of 5 Gy. Fluorometric analysis of decalcified femurs demonstrated a significant and transient increase in the quantity of pentosidine, pyridinolines, and non-specific AGEs per unit of collagen at one week post-radiation. These differences did not persist at 4, 8, 12, or 26 weeks post-radiation. Radiation had no effect on bone collagen content. We hypothesize that following the transient increase in glycation products, these cross-links are then removed as a result of increased post-radiation osteoclast activity and continued mineralization of the bone.
PMCID: PMC4382799  PMID: 24701964
20.  Development of a Metabolomic Radiation Signature in Urine from Patients Undergoing Total Body Irradiation 
Radiation research  2014;181(4):350-361.
The emergence of the threat of radiological terrorism and other radiological incidents has led to the need for development of fast, accurate and noninvasive methods for detection of radiation exposure. The purpose of this study was to extend radiation metabolomic biomarker discovery to humans, as previous studies have focused on mice. Urine was collected from patients undergoing total body irradiation at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center prior to hematopoietic stem cell transplantation at 4–6 h postirradiation (a single dose of 1.25 Gy) and 24 h (three fractions of 1.25 Gy each). Global metabolomic profiling was obtained through analysis with ultra performance liquid chromatography coupled to time-of-flight mass spectrometry (TOFMS). Prior to further analyses, each sample was normalized to its respective creatinine level. Statistical analysis was conducted by the nonparametric Kolmogorov-Smirnov test and the Fisher’s exact test and markers were validated against pure standards. Seven markers showed distinct differences between pre- and post-exposure samples. Of those, trimethyl-l-lysine and the carnitine conjugates acetylcarnitine, decanoylcarnitine and octanoylcarnitine play an important role in the transportation of fatty acids across mitochondria for subsequent fatty acid β-oxidation. The remaining metabolites, hypoxanthine, xanthine and uric acid are the final products of the purine catabolism pathway, and high levels of excretion have been associated with increased oxidative stress and radiation induced DNA damage. Further analysis revealed sex differences in the patterns of excretion of the markers, demonstrating that generation of a sex-specific metabolomic signature will be informative and can provide a quick and reliable assessment of individuals in a radiological scenario. This is the first radiation metabolomics study in human urine laying the foundation for the use of metabolomics in biodosimetry and providing confidence in biomarker identification based on the overlap between animal models and humans.
PMCID: PMC4071158  PMID: 24673254
21.  In Utero Exposure to Iodine-131 from Chernobyl Fallout and Anthropometric Characteristics in Adolescence 
Radiation research  2014;181(3):293-301.
Prenatal exposure to external radiation has been linked to growth retardation among atomic bomb survivors in adolescence. It is unclear from previous studies whether in utero exposure to internal radiation such as iodine-131 (I-131), which concentrates in the thyroid gland, has an effect on physical growth. We examined the associations between estimated thyroid gland dose from prenatal exposure to I-131 and self-reported height and weight in a cohort of 2,460 individuals exposed to radioactive fallout from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident [mean I-131 dose = 72 (mGy)] and screened for thyroid diseases in adolescence. Using multivariable linear regression models, we estimated the mean differences in height, weight and body mass index (BMI) per unit increase in dose (100 mGy) in models adjusted for gender, age at examination, type of residence (rural/urban) and presence of thyroid disease diagnosed at screening. All of the adjustment factors as well as the trimester of exposure were evaluated as potential modifiers of the dose response. Overall, no significant dose response was found for height (P = 0.29), weight (P = 0.14) or BMI (P = 0.16). We found significant modification of the dose response for weight and BMI by presence/absence of thyroid disease (P = 0.02 and P = 0.03, respectively), but not for other factors. In individuals without thyroid disease (n = 1,856), there was a weak, significant association between I-131 thyroid dose and higher weight (210 g per 100 mGy, P = 0.02) or BMI (70 g/m2 per 100 mGy, P = 0.02) that depended on individuals (n = 52) exposed to ≥500 mGy. In individuals with thyroid disease (n = 579, 67.4% with simple diffuse goiter) no significant association with I-131 for weight (P = 0.14) or BMI (P = 0.14) was found. These results do not support the hypothesis that in utero exposure to I-131 at levels experienced by a majority of study subjects may be associated with meaningful differences in adolescent anthropometry. However, additional studies are needed to clarify whether in utero exposure to I-131 at levels > = 500 mGy may be associated with increases in weight/BMI and to evaluate the confounding or modifying role of thyroid disease, past iodine deficiency, maternal and prenatal/postnatal factors.
PMCID: PMC4068270  PMID: 24611659
22.  Accuracy of Off-Line Bioluminescence Imaging to Localize Targets in Preclinical Radiation Research 
Radiation research  2013;179(4):416-421.
In this study, we investigated the accuracy of using off-line bioluminescence imaging (BLI) and tomography (BLT) to guide irradiation of small soft tissue targets on a small animal radiation research platform (SARRP) with on-board cone beam CT (CBCT) capability. A small glass bulb containing BL cells was implanted as a BL source in the abdomen of 11 mouse carcasses. Bioluminescence imaging and tomography were acquired for each carcass. Six carcasses were setup visually without immobilization and 5 were restrained in position with tape. All carcasses were setup in treatment position on the SARRP where the centroid position of the bulb on CBCT was taken as “truth”. In the 2D visual setup, the carcass was setup by aligning the point of brightest luminescence with the vertical beam axis. In the CBCT assisted setup, the pose of the carcass on CBCT was aligned with that on the 2D BL image for setup. For both 2D setup methods, the offset of the bulb centroid on CBCT from the vertical beam axis was measured. In the BLT-CBCT fusion method, the 3D torso on BLT and CBCT was registered and the 3D offset of the respective source centroids was calculated. The setup results were independent of the carcass being immobilized or not due to the onset of rigor mortis. The 2D offset of the perceived BL source position from the CBCT bulb position was 2.3 mm ± 1.3 mm. The 3D offset between BLT and CBCT was 1.5 mm ± 0.9 mm. Given the rigidity of the carcasses, the setup results represent the best that can be achieved with off-line 2D BLI and 3D BLT. The setup uncertainty would require the use of undesirably large margin of 4–5 mm. The results compel the implementation of on-board BLT capability on the SARRP to eliminate setup error and to improve BLT accuracy.
PMCID: PMC4347528  PMID: 23578189
23.  Radiation-Induced Alterations in Mitochondria of the Rat Heart 
Radiation research  2014;181(3):324-334.
Radiation therapy for the treatment of thoracic cancers may be associated with radiation-induced heart disease (RIHD), especially in long-term cancer survivors. Mechanisms by which radiation causes heart disease are largely unknown. To identify potential long-term contributions of mitochondria in the development of radiation-induced heart disease, we examined the time course of effects of irradiation on cardiac mitochondria. In this study, Sprague-Dawley male rats received image-guided local X irradiation of the heart with a single dose ranging from 3–21 Gy. Two weeks after irradiation, left ventricular mitochondria were isolated to assess the dose-dependency of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) opening in a mitochondrial swelling assay. At time points from 6 h to 9 months after a cardiac dose of 21 Gy, the following analyses were performed: left ventricular Bax and Bcl-2 protein levels; apoptosis; mitochondrial inner membrane potential and mPTP opening; mitochondrial mass and expression of mitophagy mediators Parkin and PTEN induced putative kinase-1 (PINK-1); mitochondrial respiration and protein levels of succinate dehydrogenase A (SDHA); and the 70 kDa subunit of complex II. Local heart irradiation caused a prolonged increase in Bax/Bcl-2 ratio and induced apoptosis between 6 h and 2 weeks. The mitochondrial membrane potential was reduced until 2 weeks, and the calcium-induced mPTP opening was increased from 6 h up to 9 months. An increased mitochondrial mass together with unaltered levels of Parkin suggested that mitophagy did not occur. Lastly, we detected a significant decrease in succinate-driven state 2 respiration in isolated mitochondria from 2 weeks up to 9 months after irradiation, coinciding with reduced mitochondrial levels of succinate dehydrogenase A. Our results suggest that local heart irradiation induces long-term changes in cardiac mitochondrial membrane functions, levels of SDH and state 2 respiration. At any time after exposure to radiation, cardiac mitochondria are more prone to mPTP opening. Future studies will determine whether this makes the heart more susceptible to secondary stressors such as calcium overload or ischemia/reperfusion.
PMCID: PMC4029615  PMID: 24568130
24.  Bone Marrow Transplantation Helps Restore the Intestinal Mucosal Barrier after Total Body Irradiation in Mice 
Radiation research  2014;181(3):229-239.
Bone marrow transplantation (BMT) substantially improves 10-day survival after total body irradiation (TBI), consistent with an effect on intestinal radiation death. Total body irradiation, in addition to injuring the intestinal epithelium, also perturbs the mucosal immune system, the largest immune system in the body. This study focused on how transplanted bone marrow cells (BMCs) help restore mucosal immune cell populations after sublethal TBI (8.0 Gy). We further evaluated whether transplanted BMCs: (a) home to sites of radiation injury using green fluorescent protein labeled bone marrow; and (b) contribute to restoring the mucosal barrier in vivo. As expected, BMT accelerated recovery of peripheral blood (PB) cells. In the intestine, BMT was associated with significant early recovery of mucosal granulocytes (P = 0.005). Bone marrow transplantation did not affect mucosal macrophages or lymphocyte populations at early time points, but enhanced the recovery of these cells from day 14 onward (P = 0.03). Bone marrow transplantation also attenuated radiation-induced increase of intestinal CXCL1 and restored IL-10 levels (P = 0.001). Most importantly, BMT inhibited the post-radiation increase in intestinal permeability after 10 Gy TBI (P = 0.02) and modulated the expression of tight junction proteins (P = 0.01–0.05). Green fluorescent protein-positive leukocytes were observed both in intestinal tissue and in PB. These findings strongly suggest that BMT, in addition to enhancing general hematopoietic and immune system recovery, helps restore the intestinal immune system and enhances intestinal mucosal barrier function. These findings may be important in the development and understanding of strategies to alleviate or treat intestinal radiation toxicity.
PMCID: PMC4038129  PMID: 24568131
25.  Drug Metabolism and Homologous Recombination Repair in Radiosensitization with Gemcitabine 
Radiation research  2015;183(1):114-123.
Gemcitabine (difluorodeoxycytidine; dFdCyd) is a potent radiosensitizer, noted for its ability to enhance cytotoxicity with radiation at noncytotoxic concentrations in vitro and subchemotherapeutic doses in patients. Radiosensitization in human tumor cells requires dFdCyd-mediated accumulation of cells in S phase with inhibition of ribonucleotide reductase, resulting in ≥80% deoxyadenosine triphosphate (dATP) depletion and errors of replication in DNA. Less is known of the role of specific DNA replication and repair pathways in the radiosensitization mechanism. Here the role of homologous recombination (HR) in relationship to the metabolic and cell cycle effects of dFdCyd was investigated using a matched pair of CHO cell lines that are either proficient (AA8 cells) or deficient (irs1SF cells) in HR based on expression of the HR protein XRCC3. The results demonstrated that the characteristics of radiosensitization in the rodent AA8 cells differed significantly from those in human tumor cells. In the AA8 cells, radiosensitization was achieved only under short (≤4 h) cytotoxic incubations, and S-phase accumulation did not appear to be required for radiosensitization. In contrast, human tumor cell lines were radiosensitized using noncytotoxic concentrations of dFdCyd and required early S-phase accumulation. Studies of the metabolic effects of dFdCyd demonstrated low dFdCyd concentrations did not deplete dATP by ≥80% in AA8 and irs1SF cells. However, at higher concentrations of dFdCyd, failure to radiosensitize the HR-deficient irs1SF cells could not be explained by a lack of dATP depletion or lack of S-phase accumulation. Thus, these parameters did not correspond to dFdCyd radiosensitization in the CHO cells. To evaluate directly the role of HR in radiosensitization, XRCC3 expression was suppressed in the AA8 cells with a lentiviral-delivered shRNA. Partial XRCC3 suppression significantly decreased radiosensitization [radiation enhancement ratio (RER) = 1.6 ± 0.15], compared to nontransduced (RER = 2.7 ± 0.27; P = 0.012), and a substantial decrease compared to nonspecific shRNA-transduced (RER =2.5 ± 0.42; P =0.056) AA8 cells. Although the results support a role for HR in radiosensitization with dFdCyd in CHO cells, the differences in the underlying metabolic and cell cycle characteristics suggest that dFdCyd radiosensitization in the nontumor-derived CHO cells is mechanistically distinct from that in human tumor cells.
PMCID: PMC4341824  PMID: 25564718

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