Diagnostic markers are needed for accidental or deliberate radiation exposure that could cause acute and chronic radiation toxicity. Biomarkers of temporal, dose-dependent, aging-attenuated and multiple radiation exposures have been previously described by others. However, the physiological origin and biochemical networks that generate these biomarkers and their association at the molecular level have yet to be explored. Hence, the discovery and identification of total-body-irradiation-induced tissue specific biomarkers remains an enormous challenge within radiation biodosimetry research. To determine the tissue level response of total-body exposure (6 Gy), metabolomics analysis was carried out on radiosensitive tissues bone marrow, ileum, liver, muscle and lung as well as serum and on urine within 12 h postirradiation. Differences in the metabolic signatures between the sham and gamma-irradiated groups were analyzed by hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography (HILIC)-based ultra-performance liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UPLC-ESI-QTOFMS). A panel of 67 biomarkers identified in radiosensitive tissues and biofluids (serum and urine) at a 6 Gy dose. Among the identified biomarkers, 3-methylglutarylcarnitine (3-MGC) was found to be a novel metabolite in liver, serum and urine that could potentially be an early radiation response marker. The degree of metabolic changes among different tissues showed perturbations in pathways including DNA methylation, energy, nucleic acid, amino acid, glutathione and bile acid metabolism. These results highlight metabolomics as a potential novel approach to understand functional alterations in the metabolome that could be adapted for use in the rapid assessment of radiation exposure and triage protocols in the case of nuclear incidents.
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Vol. 187 • No. 5