In the event of a major accidental or intentional radiation exposure incident, the affected population could suffer from total- or partial-body exposures to ionizing radiation with acute exposure to organs that would produce life-threatening injury. Therefore, it is necessary to identify markers capable of predicting organ-specific damage so that appropriate directed or encompassing therapies can be applied. In the current work, gene expression changes in response to total-body irradiation (TBI) were identified in heart, lungs and liver tissue of Göttingen minipigs. Animals received 1.7, 1.9, 2.1 or 2.3 Gy TBI and were followed for 45 days. Organ samples were collected at the end of day 45 or sooner if the animal displayed morbidity necessitating euthanasia. Our findings indicate that different organs respond to TBI in a very specific and distinct manner. We also found that the liver was the most affected organ in terms of gene expression changes, and that lipid metabolic pathways were the most deregulated in the liver samples of non-survivors (survival time <45 days). We identified organ-specific gene expression signatures that accurately differentiated non-survivors from survivors and control animals, irrespective of dose and time postirradiation. At what point did these radiation-induced injury markers manifest and how this information could be used for applying intervention therapies are under investigation.
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Vol. 194 • No. 4