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Increased cancer risk remains a primary concern for travel into deep space and may preclude manned missions to Mars due to large uncertainties that currently exist in estimating cancer risk from the spectrum of radiations found in space with the very limited available human epidemiological radiation-induced cancer data. Existing data on human risk of cancer from X-ray and gamma-ray exposure must be scaled to the many types and fluences of radiations found in space using radiation quality factors and dose-rate modification factors, and assuming linearity of response since the shapes of the dose responses at low doses below 100 mSv are unknown. The goal of this work was to reduce uncertainties in the relative biological effect (RBE) and linear energy transfer (LET) relationship for space-relevant doses of charged-particle radiation-induced carcinogenesis. The historical data from the studies of Fry et al. and Alpen et al. for Harderian gland (HG) tumors in the female CB6F1 strain of mouse represent the most complete set of experimental observations, including dose dependence, available on a specific radiation-induced tumor in an experimental animal using heavy ion beams that are found in the cosmic radiation spectrum. However, these data lack complete information on low-dose responses below 0.1 Gy, and for chronic low-dose-rate exposures, and there are gaps in the LET region between 25 and 190 keV/μm. In this study, we used the historical HG tumorigenesis data as reference, and obtained HG tumor data for 260 MeV/u silicon (LET ∼70 keV/μm) and 1,000 MeV/u titanium (LET ∼100 keV/μm) to fill existing gaps of data in this LET range to improve our understanding of the dose-response curve at low doses, to test for deviations from linearity and to provide RBE estimates. Animals were also exposed to five daily fractions of 0.026 or 0.052 Gy of 1,000 MeV/u titanium ions to simulate chronic exposure, and HG tumorigenesis from this fractionated study were compared to the results from single 0.13 or 0.26 Gy acute titanium exposures. Theoretical modeling of the data show that a nontargeted effect model provides a better fit than the targeted effect model, providing important information at space-relevant doses of heavy ions.
The purpose of this work was to adapt a more advanced form of the cytokinesis-block micronucleus (CBMN) cytome assay for triage biodosimetry in the event of a mass casualty radiation incident. We modified scoring procedures for the CBMN cytome assay to optimize field deployability, dose range, accuracy, speed, economy, simplicity and stability. Peripheral blood of 20 donors was irradiated in vitro (0–6 Gy X ray, maximum photon energy 240 keV) and processed for CBMN. Initially, we assessed two manual scoring strategies for accuracy: 1. Conventional scoring, comprised of micronucleus (MN) frequency per 1,000 binucleated (BN) cells (MN/1,000 BN cells); and 2. Evaluation of 1,000, 2,000 and 3,000 cells in total and different cellular subsets based on MN formation and proliferation (e.g., BN cells with and without MN, mononucleated cells). We used linear and logistic regression models to identify the cellular subsets related closest to dose with the best discrimination ability among different doses/dose categories. We validated the most promising subsets and their combinations with 16 blind samples covering a dose range of 0–8.3 Gy. Linear dose-response relationships comparable to the conventional CBMN assay (r2 = 0.86) were found for BN cells with MN (r2 = 0.84) and BN cells without MN (r2 = 0.84). Models of combined cell counts (CCC) of BN cells with and without MN (BN MN and BN–MN) with mononucleated cells (Mono) improved this relationship (r2 = 0.92). Conventional CBMN discriminated dose categories up to 3 Gy with a concordance between 0.96–1.0 upon scoring 1,000 total cells. In 1,000 BN cells, concordances were observed for conventional CBMN up to 4 Gy as well as BN MN or BN–MN (about 0.85). At doses of 4–6 Gy, the concordance of conventional CBMN, BN MN and BN–MN declined (about 0.55). We found about 20% higher concordance and more precise dose estimates of irradiated and blinded samples for CCC (Mono BN MN) after scoring 1,000 total cells. Blinded sample analysis revealed that the mean absolute difference (MAD) of dose estimates and the number of dose estimates outside the ±0.5 Gy interval based on CCC (Mono BN MN) was comparable to conventional CBMN for doses ≤4 Gy when scoring 3,000 total cells or more. At doses >4–8.3 Gy, the MAD of CCC (Mono BN MN) declined to half of the MADs observed for conventional CBMN, suggesting that the combined cell counts approach improved the discrimination ability. Conventional CBMN at 1,000 total-cell counts performed as efficiently as counting 1,000 BN cells. Discriminating and counting only BN cells with and without MN after 1,000 BN cells at ≤4 Gy revealed performances similar to conventional CBMN. After 3,000 total cells were scored, CCC (Mono BN MN) was superior to conventional CBMN at >4 Gy up to about 8 Gy. Our modification of CBMN evaluations saved time compared to the widely established semiautomated MN scoring and extended the dose range up to approximately 6 Gy for triage biodosimetry.
Studies have causally linked external thyroid radiation exposure in childhood with thyroid cancer. In 1995, investigators conducted relative risk analyses of pooled data from seven epidemiologic studies. Doses were mostly <10 Gy, although childhood cancer therapies can result in thyroid doses >50 Gy. We pooled data from 12 studies of thyroid cancer patients who were exposed to radiation in childhood (ages <20 years), more than doubling the data, including 1,070 (927 exposed) thyroid cancers and 5.3 million (3.4 million exposed) person-years. Relative risks increased supralinearly through 2–4 Gy, leveled off between 10–30 Gy and declined thereafter, remaining significantly elevated above 50 Gy. There was a significant relative risk trend for doses <0.10 Gy (P < 0.01), with no departure from linearity (P = 0.36). We observed radiogenic effects for both papillary and nonpapillary tumors. Estimates of excess relative risk per Gy (ERR/Gy) were homogeneous by sex (P = 0.35) and number of radiation treatments (P = 0.84) and increased with decreasing age at the time of exposure. The ERR/Gy estimate was significant within ten years of radiation exposure, 2.76 (95% CI, 0.94–4.98), based on 42 exposed cases, and remained elevated 50 years and more after exposure. Finally, exposure to chemotherapy was significantly associated with thyroid cancer, with results supporting a nonsynergistic (additive) association with radiation.
Ionizing radiation causes depletion of hematopoietic cells and enhances the risk of developing secondary hematopoietic malignancies. Vitamin E analog gamma-tocotrienol (GT3), which has anticancer properties, promotes postirradiation hematopoietic cell recovery by enhancing spleen colony-forming capacity, and provides protection against radiation-induced lethality in mice. However, the underlying molecular mechanism involved in GT3-mediated postirradiation survival is not clearly understood. Recent studies have shown that natural dietary products including vitamin E provide a benefit to biological systems by modulating microRNA (miR) expression. In this study, we show that GT3 differentially modulates the miR footprint in the spleen of irradiated mice compared to controls at early times (day 1), as well as later times (day 4 and 15) after total-body irradiation. We observed that miR expression was altered in a dose- and time-dependent manner in GT3-pretreated spleen tissues from total-body irradiated mice. GT3 appeared to affect the expression of a number of radiation-modulated miRs known to be involved in hematopoiesis and lymphogenesis. Moreover, GT3 pretreatment also suppressed the upregulation of radiation-induced p53, suggesting the function of GT3 in the prevention of radiation-induced damage to the spleen. In addition, we have shown that GT3 significantly reduced serum levels of Flt3L, a biomarker of radiation-induced bone marrow aplasia. Further in silico analyses of the effect of GT3 implied the association of p38 MAPK, ERK and insulin signaling pathways. Our study provides initial insight into the mechanism by which GT3 mediates protection of spleen after total-body irradiation.
Quantitative data is presented that shows significant changes in cellular metabolism in a head and neck cancer cell line 30 min after irradiation. A head and neck cancer cell line (UM-SCC-22B) and a comparable normal cell line, normal oral keratinocyte (NOK) were each separately exposed to 10 Gy and treated with a control drug for disrupting metabolism (potassium cyanide; KCN). The metabolic changes were measured live by fluorescence lifetime imaging of the intrinsically fluorescent intermediate metabolite nicotinamide adenosine dinucleotide (NADH) fluorescence; this method is sensitive to the ratio of bound to free NADH. The results indicated a prompt shift in metabolic signature in the cancer cell line, but not in the normal cell line. Control KCN treatment demonstrated expected metabolic fluxes due to mitochondrial disruption. The detected radiation shift in the cancer cells was blunted in the presence of both a radical scavenger and a HIF-1α inhibitor. The HIF-1α abundance as detected by immunohistochemical staining also increased substantially for these cancer cells, but not for the normal cells. This type of live-cell metabolic monitoring could be helpful for future real-time studies and in designing adaptive radiotherapy approaches.
A detailed understanding of the relationship between radiation-induced breast cancer and obesity is needed for appropriate risk management and to prevent the development of a secondary cancer in patients who have been treated with radiation. Our goal was to develop an animal model to study the relationship by combining two existing Sprague-Dawley rat models of radiation-induced mammary carcinogenesis and diet-induced obesity. Female rats were fed a high-fat diet for 4 weeks and categorized as obesity prone or obesity resistant based on their body weight at 7 weeks of age, at which time the rats were irradiated with 4 Gy. Control rats were fed a standard diet and irradiated at the same time and in the same manner. All rats were maintained on their initial diets and assessed for palpable mammary cancers once a week for the next 30 weeks. The obesity-prone rats were heavier than those in the other groups. The obesity-prone rats were also younger than the other animals at the first detection of mammary carcinomas and their carcinoma weights were greater. A tendency toward higher insulin and leptin blood levels were observed in the obesity-prone rats compared to the other two groups. Blood angiotensin II levels were elevated in the obesity-prone and obesity-resistant rats. Genes related to translation and oxidative phosphorylation were upregulated in the carcinomas of obesity-prone rats. Expression profiles from human breast cancers were used to validate this animal model. As angiotensin is potentially an important factor in obesity-related morbidities and breast cancer, a second set of rats was fed in a similar manner, irradiated and then treated with an angiotensin-receptor blocker, losartan and candesartan. Neither blocker altered mammary carcinogenesis; analyses of losartan-treated animals indicated that expression of renin in the renal cortex and of Agtr1a (angiotensin II receptor, type 1) in cancer tissue was significantly upregulated, suggesting the presence of compensating mechanisms for blocking angiotensin-receptor signaling. Thus, obesity-related elevation of insulin and leptin blood levels and an increase in available energy may facilitate sustained protein synthesis in cancer cells, which is required for rapid cancer development.
Cerium oxide nanoparticles (CNPs) have a unique surface regenerative property and can efficiently control reactive oxygen/nitrogen species. To determine whether treatment with CNPs can mitigate the delayed effects of lung injury after acute radiation exposure, CBA/J mice were exposed to 15 Gy whole-thorax radiation. The animals were either treated with nanoparticles, CNP-18 and CNP-ME, delivered by intraperitoneal injection twice weekly for 4 weeks starting 2 h postirradiation or received radiation treatment alone. At the study's end point of 160 days, 90% of the irradiated mice treated with high-dose (10 μM) CNP-18 survived, compared to 10% of mice in the radiation-alone (P < 0.0001) and 30% in the low-dose (100 nM) CNP-18. Both low- and high-dose CNP-ME-treated irradiated mice showed increased survival rates of 40% compared to 10% in the radiation-alone group. Multiple lung functional parameters recorded by flow-ventilated whole-body plethysmography demonstrated that high-dose CNP-18 treatment had a significant radioprotective effect on lethal dose radiation-induced lung injury. Lung histology revealed a significant decrease (P < 0.0001) in structural damage and collagen deposition in mice treated with high-dose CNP-18 compared to the irradiated-alone mice. In addition, significant reductions in inflammatory response (P < 0.01) and vascular damage (P < 0.01) were observed in the high-dose CNP-18-treated group compared to irradiated-alone mice. Together, the findings from this preclinical efficacy study clearly demonstrate that CNPs have both clinically and histologically significant mitigating and protective effects on lethal dose radiation-induced lung injury.
Several classes of inhibitors of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) have been developed based on its central role in sensing growth factor and nutrient levels to regulate cellular metabolism. However, its ATP-binding site closely resembles other phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-related kinase (PIKK) family members, resulting in reactivity with these targets that may also be therapeutically useful. The ATP-competitive mTOR inhibitor, Torin2, shows biochemical activity against the DNA repair-associated proteins ATM, ATR and DNA-PK, which raises the possibility that Torin2 and related compounds might radiosensitize cancerous tumors. In this study Torin2 was also found to enhance ionizing radiation-induced cell killing in conditions where ATM was dispensable, confirming the requirement for multiple PIKK targets. Moreover, Torin2 did not influence the initial appearance of γ-H2AX foci after irradiation but significantly delayed the disappearance of radiation-induced γ-H2AX foci, indicating a DNA repair defect. Torin2 increased the number of radiation-induced S-phase specific chromosome aberrations and reduced the frequency of radiation-induced CtIP and Rad51 foci formation, suggesting that Torin2 works by blocking homologous recombination (HR)-mediated DNA repair resulting in an S-phase specific DNA repair defect. Accordingly, Torin2 reduced HR-mediated repair of I-Sce1-induced DNA damage and contributed to replication fork stalling. We conclude that radiosensitization of tumor cells by Torin2 is associated with disrupting ATR- and ATM-dependent DNA damage responses. Our findings support the concept of developing combination cancer therapies that incorporate ionizing radiation therapy and Torin2 or compounds with similar properties.
Unfolded protein response (UPR) is comprised of complex and conserved stress pathways that function as a short-term adaptive mechanism to reduce levels of unfolded or misfolded proteins and maintain homeostasis in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). UPR can be triggered by prolonged or persistent ER stress under many physiological or pathological conditions, including radiation exposure. Radiation-induced ER stress elicits autophagy and apoptosis in cancer cells, where C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP) and c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) may play crucial roles. However, the specific mechanisms that regulate autophagy and apoptosis through CHOP and JNK after radiation exposure and how the balance of these activities determines the cellular radiosensitivity remain largely unclear. In this study, we found that exposure to X-ray radiation induced ER stress, UPR and high expression of CHOP and JNK. Furthermore, autophagy and apoptosis occurred in sequential order when breast cancer MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7 cells were exposed to X-ray radiation. CHOP gene knockdown with RNA interference inhibited autophagy and enhanced radiosensitivity in MDA-MB-231 cells, while impacting apoptosis and subsequently increasing radioresistance in MCF-7 cells. However, treatment with JNK inhibitor decreased autophagy while promoting apoptosis, thereby leading to radiosensitivity in both cell lines. Our results indicate that CHOP mediates radiation-induced autophagy and apoptosis in a cellular environment. Importantly, the functional consistency of regulating apoptosis and autophagy in these two irradiated breast cancer cell lines suggests that JNK may be more useful as a potential target for maximizing the efficacy of radiation therapy for breast cancers.
Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive disease with a high risk of recurrence and death. Here, we present a novel strategy to enhance the radiotherapy of TNBC by combining gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) with pentamidine, a clinically approved anti-parasitic agent with anti-cancer properties. The radiosensitization effects of PEG-stabilized AuNPs (PEG-AuNPs) in combination with pentamidine were evaluated in two human TNBC cell lines (MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-436). Our results showed that PEG-AuNPs alone sensitized both cell lines to radiation, achieving dose enhancement factors of 1.26 and 1.15 in MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-436, respectively. In combination with pentamidine, the greatest dose enhancement was achieved in MDA-MB-231 after 24 h of treatment with 500 μM PEG-AuNPs and 20 μM pentamidine (dose enhancement factor of 1.55). Based on the in vitro data, it is projected that this combination would result in a 10 log increase in cell kill compared to radiation alone in a clinical setting, where 50 Gy is administered to breast cancer patients in 25 fractions over 5 weeks. Studies to elucidate the underlying mechanism of radiosensitization revealed that the adsorption of pentamidine onto the PEG-AuNP surface increased the cellular uptake of gold compared to PEG-AuNPs alone. In addition, the combination resulted in a significantly greater number of residual DNA double-strand breaks compared to that of either agent alone after a 2 Gy dose. Taken together, the dual action of pentamidine on the physical and biological pathways of radiosensitization by PEG-AuNPs results in superior radiotherapeutic effects of the combined treatment group in MDA-MB-231.