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Whole thorax irradiation of non-human primates induces persistent nuclear damage and gene expression changes in peripheral blood cells

Ghandhi, Shanaz; Turner, Helen C.; Shuryak, Igor; Dugan, Gregory O.; Bourland, J. Daniel; Olson, John D.; Tooze, Janet A.; Morton, Shad Robert; Batinic-Haberle, Ines; Cline, J. Mark; Amundson, Sally A.

We investigated the cytogenetic and gene expression responses of peripheral blood cells of non-human primates (NHP, Macaca mulatta) that were whole-thorax irradiated with a single dose of 10 Gy. In this model, partial irradiation of NHPs in the thoracic region (Whole Thorax Lung Irradiation, WTLI) allows the study of late radiation-induced lung injury, while avoiding acute radiation syndromes related to hematopoietic and gastrointestinal injury. A transient drop in circulating lymphocytes and platelets was seen by 9 days, followed by elevations in respiratory rate, circulating neutrophils, lymphocytes, and monocytes at 60–100 days, corresponding to computed tomography (CT) and histologic evidence of pneumonitis, and elective euthanasia of four animals. To evaluate long-term DNA damage in NHP peripheral blood lymphocytes after 10 Gy WTLI, we used the cytokinesis-block micronucleus (CBMN) assay to measure chromosomal aberrations as post-mitotic micronuclei in blood samples collected up to 8 months after irradiation. Regression analysis showed significant induction of micronuclei in NHP blood cells that persisted with a gradual decline over the 8-month study period, suggesting long-term DNA damage in blood lymphocytes after WTLI.

We also report transcriptomic changes in blood up to 30 days after WTLI. We isolated total RNA from peripheral blood at 3 days before and then at 2, 5 and 30 days after irradiation. We identified 1187 transcripts that were significantly changed across the 30-day time course. From changes in gene expression, we identified biological processes related to immune responses, which persisted across the 30-day study. Response to oxygen-containing compounds and bacteria were implicated by gene-expression changes at the earliest day 2 and latest, day 30 time-points. Gene expression changes suggest a persistent altered state of the immune system, specifically response to infection, for at least a month after WTLI.

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Radiation Oncology
Published Here
March 22, 2018
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