Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are believed to be involved in radiation-induced xerostomia, and the application of antioxidants may be a promising method for treating patients suffering from salivary gland dysfunction. In this study, we examined the ability of the antioxidant superoxide dismutase (SOD) to restore radiation-induced salivary gland dysfunction using a mouse model of radiation-induced salivary gland hypofunction and ultraviolet B (UVB)-irradiated human salivary gland cells. We administered lecithinized SOD (PC-SOD) prior to and after irradiation and measured the amount of saliva secreted. To confirm ROS generation, flow cytometry was performed using an oxidant-sensitive fluorescent dye, dihydroethidium, and CM-H2DCFDA. While no significant decrease in saliva secretion was observed after irradiation in the mice that were treated with PC-SOD, a significant reduction in saliva secretion was noted in the irradiated mice that were not treated with PC-SOD. Furthermore, flow cytometry clearly revealed that PC-SOD eliminated superoxide (O2−) induced by UVB radiation. These results suggested that PC-SOD may protect against exocrine gland dysfunction induced by radiation, presumably by rapidly converting O2− to hydrogen peroxide. We believe that our results may advance the potential application of antioxidants for the prevention of ROS-induced xerostomia.
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