Brain radiation necrosis (RN) occurring after radiotherapy is a serious complication. We and others have performed several treatments for RN, using anticoagulants, corticosteroids, surgical resection and bevacizumab. However, the mechanisms underlying RN have not yet been completely elucidated. For more than a decade, platelet-derived growth factors (PDGFs) and their receptors (PDGFRs) have been extensively studied in many biological processes. These proteins influence a wide range of biological responses and participate in many normal and pathological conditions. In this study, we demonstrated that PDGF isoforms (PDGF-A, B, C, and D) and PDGFRs (PDGFR-α and β) are involved in the pathogenesis of human brain RN. We speculated on their roles, with a focus on their potential involvement in angiogenesis and inflammation in RN.
Seven surgical specimens of RN, obtained from 2006 to 2013 at our department, were subjected to histopathological analyses and stained with hematoxylin and eosin. We qualitatively analyzed the protein expression of each isoform of PDGF by immunohistochemistry. We also examined their expression with double immunofluorescence.
All PDGFs were expressed in macrophages, microglia, and endothelial cells in the boundary of the core of RN, namely, the perinecrotic area (PN), as well as in undamaged brain tissue (UB). PDGF-C, D and PDGFR-α were also expressed in reactive astrocytes in PN. PDGFs and PDGFR-α were scarcely detected in UB, but PDGFR-β was specifically expressed in endothelial cells not only in PN but also in UB.
PDGFs/PDGFRs play critical roles in angiogenesis and possibly in inflammation, and they contribute to the pathogenesis of RN, irrespective of the original tumor pathology and applied radiation modality. Treatments for the inhibition of PDGF-C, PDGF-D, and PDGFR-α may provide new approaches for the treatment of RN induced by common radiation therapies.