Pinar, B., Lara, P. C., Lloret, M., Bordón, E., Núñez, M. I., Villalobos, M., Guerrero, R., Luna, J. D. and Ruiz de Almodóvar, J. M. Radiation-Induced DNA Damage as a Predictor of Long-Term Toxicity in Locally Advanced Breast Cancer Patients Treated with High-Dose Hyperfractionated Radical Radiotherapy. Radiat. Res. 168, 415–422 (2007).
This 14-year-long study makes a novel contribution to the debate on the relationship between the in vitro radiosensitivity of peripheral blood lymphocytes and normal tissue reactions after radiation therapy. The aims were (1) to prospectively assess the degree and time of onset of skin side effects in 40 prospectively recruited consecutive patients with locally advanced breast cancer treated with a hyperfractionated dose-escalation radiotherapy schedule and (2) to assess whether initial radiation-induced DNA damage in peripheral blood lymphocytes of these patients could be used to determine their likelihood of suffering severe late damage to normal tissue. Initial radiation-induced DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) were assessed in peripheral blood lymphocytes of these patients by pulsed-field electrophoresis. Acute and late cutaneous and subcutaneous toxicity was evaluated using the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group morbidity score. A wide interindividual variation was observed in toxicity grades and in radiation-induced DNA DSBs in peripheral blood lymphocytes (mean 1.61 ± 0.76 DSBs/Gy per 200 MBp, range 0.63– 4.08), which were not correlated. Multivariate analysis showed a correlation (P < 0.008) between late toxicity and higher prescribed protocol dose (81.6 Gy). Analysis of the 29 patients referred to 81.6 Gy revealed significantly (P < 0.031) more frequent late subcutaneous toxicity in those with intrinsic sensitivity to radiation-induced DNA DSBs of >1.69 DSBs/Gy per DNA unit. Our demonstration of a relationship between the sensitivity of in vitro-irradiated peripheral blood lymphocytes and the risk of developing late toxic effects opens up the possibility of predicting normal tissue response to radiation in individual patients, at least in high-dose non-conventional radiation therapy regimens.