There is a need to identify new biomarkers of radiation exposure for not only systemic total-body irradiation (TBI) but also to characterize partial-body irradiation and organ specific radiation injury. In the current study, we sought to develop novel biodosimetry models of radiation exposure using TBI and organ specific partial-body irradiation to only the brain, lung or gut using a multivariate proteomics approach. Subset panels of significantly altered proteins were selected to build predictive models of radiation exposure in a variety of sample cohort configurations relevant to practical field application of biodosimetry diagnostics during future radiological or nuclear event scenarios. Female C57BL/6 mice, 8–15 weeks old, received a single total-body or partial-body dose of 2 or 8 Gy TBI or 2 or 8 Gy to only the lung or gut, or 2, 8 or 16 Gy to only the brain using a Pantak X-ray source. Plasma was collected by cardiac puncture at days 1, 3 and 7 postirradiation for total-body exposures and only the lung and brain exposures, and at days 3, 7 and 14 postirradiation for gut exposures. Plasma was then screened using the aptamer-based SOMAscan proteomic assay technology, for changes in expression of 1,310 protein analytes. A subset panel of protein biomarkers which demonstrated significant changes (P < 0.01) in expression after irradiation were used to build predictive models of radiation exposure using different sample cohorts. Model 1 compared controls vs. all pooled irradiated samples, which included TBI and all organ specific partial irradiation. Model 2 compared controls vs. TBI vs. partial irradiation (with all organ specific partial exposure pooled within the partial-irradiated group), and model 3 compared controls vs. each individual organ specific partial-body exposure separately (brain, gut and lung). Detectable values were obtained for all 1,310 proteins included in the SOMAscan assay for all samples. Each model algorithm built using a unique sample cohort was validated with a training set of samples and tested with a separate new sample series. Overall predictive accuracies of 89%, 78% and 55% resulted for models 1–3, respectively, representing novel predictive panels of radiation responsive proteomic biomarkers. Though relatively high overall predictive accuracies were achieved for models 1 and 2, all three models showed limited accuracy at differentiating between the controls and partial-irradiated body samples. In our study we were able to identify novel panels of radiation responsive proteins useful for predicting radiation exposure and to create predictive models of partial-body exposure including organ specific radiation exposures. This proof-of-concept study also illustrates the inherent physiological limitations of distinguishing between small-body exposures and the unirradiated using proteomic biomarkers of radiation exposure. As use of biodosimetry diagnostics in future mass casualty settings will be complicated by the heterogeneity of partial-body exposure received in the field, further work remains in adapting these diagnostic tools for practical use.
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Vol. 198 • No. 6