[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The acute period after total body irradiation (TBI) is associated with an increased risk of infection, principally resulting from the loss of hematopoietic stem cells, as well as disruption of mucosal epithelial barriers. Although there is a return to baseline infection control coinciding with the apparent progressive recovery of hematopoietic cell populations, late susceptibility to infection in radiation-sensitive organs such as lung and kidney is known to occur. Indeed, pulmonary infections are particularly prevalent in hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT) survivors, in both adult and pediatric patient populations. Preclinical studies investigating late outcomes from localized thoracic irradiation have indicated that the mechanisms underlying pulmonary delayed effects are multifactorial, including exacerbated and persistent production of pro-inflammatory molecules and abnormal cross-talk among parenchymal and infiltrating immune and inflammatory cell populations. However, in the context of low-dose TBI, it is not clear whether the observed exacerbated response to infection remains contingent on these same mechanisms. It is possible instead, that after systemic radiation-induced injury, the susceptibility to infection may be independently related to defects in alternative organs that are revealed only through the challenge itself; indeed, we have hypothesized that this defect may be due to radiation-induced chronic effects in the structure and function of secondary lymphoid organs (SLO). In this study, we investigated the molecular and cellular alterations in SLO (i.e., spleen, mediastinal, inguinal and mesenteric lymph nodes) after TBI, and the time points when there appears to be immune competence. Furthermore, due to the high incidence of pulmonary infections in the late post-transplantation period of bone marrow transplant survivors, particularly in children, we focused on outcomes in mice irradiated as neonates, which served as a model for a pediatric population, and used the induction of adaptive immunity against influenza virus as a functional end point. We demonstrated that, in adult animals irradiated as neonates, high endothelial venule (HEV) expansion, generation of follicular helper T cells (TFH) and formation of splenic germinal centers (GC) were rapidly and, more importantly, persistently impaired in SLO, suggesting that the early-life exposure to sublethal radiation had long-lasting effects on the induction of humoral immunity. Although the neonatal TBI did not affect the overall outcome from influenza infection in the adults at the earlier time points assessed, we believe that they nonetheless contribute significantly to the increased mortality observed at subsequent late time points. Furthermore, we speculate that the detrimental and persistent impact on the induction of CD4 T- and B-cell responses in the mediastinal lymph nodes will decrease the animals' ability to respond to other aerial pathogens. Since many of these pathogens are normally cleared by antibodies, our findings provide an explanation for the susceptibility of survivors of childhood HCT to life-threatening respiratory tract infections. These findings have implications regarding the need for increased monitoring in pediatric hematopoietic cell transplant patients, since they indicate that there are ongoing and cumulative defects in SLO, which, importantly, develop during the immediate and early postirradiation period when patients may appear immunologically competent. The identification of changes in immune-related signals may offer bioindicators of progressive dysfunction, and of potential mechanisms that could be targeted so as to reduce the risk of infection from extracellular pathogens. Furthermore, these results support the potential susceptibility of the pediatric population to infection after sublethal irradiation in the context of a nuclear or radiological event.
Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Radiation Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A number of investigators have suggested that exposure to low-dose radiation may pose a potentially serious health risk. However, the majority of these studies have focused on the short-term rather than long-term effects of exposure to fixed source radiation, and few have examined the effects of internal contamination. Additionally, very few studies have focused on exposure in juveniles, when organs are still developing and could be more sensitive to the toxic effects of radiation. To specifically address whether early-life radiation injury may affect long-term immune competence, we studied 14-day-old juvenile pups that were either 5 Gy total-body irradiated or injected internally with 50 μCi soluble (137)Cs, then infected with influenza A virus at 26 weeks after exposure. After influenza infection, all groups demonstrated immediate weight loss. We found that externally irradiated, infected animals failed to recover weight relative to age-matched infected controls, but internally (137)Cs contaminated and infected animals had a weight recovery with a similar rate and degree as controls. Externally and internally irradiated mice demonstrated reduced levels of club cell secretory protein (CCSP) message in their lungs after influenza infection. The externally irradiated group did not recover CCSP expression even at the two-week time point after infection. Although the antibody response and viral titers did not appear to be affected by either radiation modality, there was a slight increase in monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP)-1 expression in the lungs of externally irradiated animals 14 days after influenza infection, with increased cellular infiltration present. Notably, an increase in the number of regulatory T cells was seen in the mediastinal lymph nodes of irradiated mice relative to uninfected mice. These data confirm the hypothesis that early-life irradiation may have long-term consequences on the immune system, leading to an altered antiviral response.
Full-text · Article · Jun 2015 · Radiation Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Viral infections have been associated with exacerbation of disease in human cases of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Since pulmonary fibrosis is a common outcome after irradiation to the lung, we hypothesized that viral infection after radiation exposure would exacerbate radiation-induced lung injury. Epithelial injury, a frequent outcome after infection, has been hypothesized to contribute to the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis and bronchiolar epithelial Clara cells participate in epithelial repair. Therefore, it was further hypothesized that altered responses after irradiation involve the bronchiolar epithelial Clara cells. C57BL/6J or CCSP(-/-) mice were irradiated with 0 (sham), 5, 10 or 15 Gy to the whole thorax. At ten weeks post-irradiation, animals were mock infected or infected with influenza A virus and body weight and survival were monitored. Pulmonary function was assessed by whole-body plethysmography. The Clara cell markers, CCSP and Cyp2f2, were measured in the lung by qRT-PCR, and protein expression was visualized in the lung by immunofluorescence. Following pulmonary function tests, mice were sacrificed and tissues were collected for pathological analysis. In 15 Gy irradiated animals infected with influenza A virus, accelerated respiratory rates, reduced pulmonary function, and exacerbated lung pathology occurred earlier post-irradiation than previously observed after irradiation alone, suggesting infection accelerates the development of radiation injury. After irradiation alone, CCSP and Cyp2f2 mRNA levels were reduced, correlating with reductions in the number of Clara cells lining the airways. When combined with infection, these markers further declined and an apparent delay in recovery of mRNA expression was observed, suggesting that radiation injury leads to a chronic reduction in the number of Clara cells that may potentiate the epithelial injury observed after influenza A virus infection. This novel finding may have considerable therapeutic implications with respect to both thoracic tumor patients and recipients of bone marrow transplants.
No preview · Article · Apr 2013 · Radiation Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Significant differences exist between the physiology of the immature, neonatal lung compared to that of the adult lung that may affect acute and late responses to irradiation. Identifying these differences is critical to developing successful mitigation strategies for this special population. Our current hypothesis proposes that irradiation during the neonatal period will alter developmental processes, resulting in long-term consequences, including altered susceptibility to challenge with respiratory pathogens. C57BL/6J mice, 4 days of age, received 5 Gy whole-body irradiation. At subsequent time points (12, 26 and 46 weeks postirradiation), mice were intranasally infected with 120 HAU of influenza A virus. Fourteen days later, mice were sacrificed and tissues were collected for examination. Morbidity was monitored following changes in body weight and survival. The magnitude of the pulmonary response was determined by bronchoalveolar lavage, histological examination and gene expression of epithelial and inflammatory markers. Viral clearance was assessed 7 days post-influenza infection. Following influenza infection, irradiated animals that were infected at 26 and 46 weeks postirradiation lost significantly more weight and demonstrated reduced survival compared with those infected at 12 weeks postirradiation, with the greatest deleterious effect seen at the late time point. The results of these experiments suggest that radiation injury during early life may affect the lung's response to a subsequent pathogenic aerial challenge, possibly through a chronic and progressive defect in the immune system. This finding may have implications for the development of countermeasures in the context of systemic radiation exposure.
No preview · Article · Mar 2012 · Radiation Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In our ongoing investigation into the consequences of a radiological terrorism or nuclear dispersion event, we assessed whether a dose range that is believed to be sub-threshold for the development of lung endpoints results in late pathological changes and, secondarily, whether those late changes affect the lung's ability to respond to subsequent challenge.
C57BL/6J mice received total body irradiation (0.5-10 Gy) and were followed for 6-18 months after irradiation. At 12 and 15 months, a subset of mice was exposed to a second challenge (aerosolised lipopolysaccharide [LPS]).
Cytokines shown to be upregulated early (hours) following irradiation (interleukin [IL]6, keratinocyte chemoattractant [KC], IL1B, and IL1R2) demonstrated increases in messenger ribose nucleic acid (mRNA) expression at late time points, beginning at nine months. Although persistent, dose-dependent increases in T cell counts were seen, no other overt changes in pathophysiology were observed. Nonetheless, animals that were exposed to a secondary challenge at late time points demonstrated an increased inflammatory cell recruitment and persistence in response relative to controls.
We propose that, following doses that elicit little change in pathophysiology, sub-clinical radiation-induced injury increases the lungs' susceptibility to a secondary challenge, possibly through a radiation-induced alteration in the immune defense system.
Full-text · Article · May 2011 · International Journal of Radiation Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To assess early changes in the lung after low-dose radiation exposure that may serve as targets for mitigation of lung injury in the aftermath of a terrorist event, we analyzed cytokine expression after irradiation. Adult mice were studied after whole-lung or total-body irradiation. Mouse pups of different ages were also investigated after total-body irradiation. mRNA abundance was analyzed in tissue and plasma, and pathological changes were assessed. In lung tissue, dose-related changes were seen in IL1B, IL1R2 and CXCR2 mRNA expression at 1 and 6 h after irradiation, concurrent with increases in plasma protein levels of KC/CXCL1 and IL6. However, in the pups, changes in IL1 abundance were not detected until 28 days of age, coincident with the end of postnatal lung growth, although apoptosis was detected at all ages. In conclusion, although cytokines were expressed after low doses of radiation, their role in the progression of tissue response is yet to be determined. They may be candidates for use in marker-based biodosimetry. However, the lack of cytokine induction in early life suggests that different end points (and mitigating treatments) may be required for children.
Full-text · Article · Apr 2010 · Radiation Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Instillation of crystalline silica into the lungs of mice is a common experimental model of pulmonary fibrosis. Typically, a suspension of silica in saline is injected into the trachea via intubation or surgical tracheostomy. These techniques require a high degree of technical skill, have a lengthy training period, and can suffer from a high failure rate. In oropharyngeal aspiration, a droplet of liquid is placed in the animal's mouth while simultaneously holding its tongue (to block the swallow reflex) and pinching its nose shut, forcing it to breathe through its mouth, aspirating the liquid. To determine whether oropharyngeal aspiration (OA) could replace intratracheal instillation (IT) in a model of silica-induced fibrosis, a comparison was performed. Crystalline silica was introduced into the lungs of male C57BL/6 mice by the IT or OA procedure, and the resulting inflammation and fibrosis was assessed after 3 weeks. IT and OA instillation of silica both resulted in neutrophilic inflammation and fibrotic changes, including interstitial fibrosis and dense fibrotic foci. Mice treated via IT demonstrated a few large lesions proximal to conducting airways with little involvement of the distal parenchyma and large interanimal variability. In contrast, OA resulted in a diffuse pathology with numerous fibrotic foci distributed throughout the lung parenchyma, which is more representative of human fibrotic lung disease. OA- but not IT-treated mice exhibited significantly increased lung collagen content. Furthermore, the interanimal variability within the OA group was significantly less than in the IT group. Oropharyngeal aspiration should be considered as an alternative to intratracheal instillation of silica and other particulates in studies of respiratory toxicity and lung disease.
No preview · Article · Jun 2006 · Experimental Lung Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ionizing radiation leads to a progressive injury in which a monocyte/macrophage-rich pneumonitis is followed by a chronic progressive fibrosis. In the present study, the role of macrophage/monocyte recruitment in the genesis of radiation-induced pulmonary fibrosis was examined. The objectives were threefold: (i) characterize the inflammatory cells recruited into the lung during the development of radiation-induced fibrosis; (ii) investigate changes in lung response following depletion of resident alveolar macrophages in vivo prior to radiation treatment; (iii) assess if inhalation of low levels of endotoxin would potentiate the radiation-initiated injury. One group of fibrosis-sensitive C57BL/6 mice was irradiated with a single dose of 15 Gy to the thorax. In a second group, resident inflammatory cells were depleted using clodronate, encapsulated into liposomes, 48 hours prior to irradiation with a single dose of 15 Gy to the thorax. Control animals were sham irradiated. All groups of animals then were examined 8, 16, or 24 weeks post irradiation. No difference in total cell numbers or cell differentials was observed between irradiated mice or those that were both liposome treated and irradiated at any time point. At 16 weeks, mice that received radiation showed a 5- to 6-fold increase in lymphocytes regardless of treatment as compared to control animals. At 24 weeks post irradiation, select groups were exposed to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and examined 24 hours post inhalation. Lavageable protein was increased several fold in mice that received both radiation and LPS exposure as compared to 15 Gy or LPS exposure alone. These results demonstrate: (i) macrophages and lymphocytes are the predominately recruited cell types through 24 weeks post irradiation; (ii) recovery of inflammatory cells, regardless of prior macrophage depletion, were similar, suggesting that early responses are primarily driven by parenchymal cell injury; (iii) thoracic irradiation-induced injury can cause sensitization to a secondary stimulus that may result in injuries/responses not predicted by evaluating exposures individually.
No preview · Article · Jul 2004 · Experimental Lung Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Our group's work on late radiation effects has been governed by the hypothesis that the effects observed in normal tissues are a consequence of multicellular interactions through a network of mediators. Further, we believe that inflammation is a necessary component of this process. We therefore investigated whether the recruitment of mononuclear cells, observed during the pneumonitic period in the irradiated normal lung, is dependent on the expression of chemokines, notably Mcp1. Since statins have been shown to reduce chemokine expression and inflammatory cell recruitment, we specifically examined whether statins could be used to reduce monocyte recruitment. Mice received 15 Gy whole-lung irradiation; treated groups were administered lovastatin three times weekly starting either immediately or 8 weeks postirradiation. At subsequent intervals, animals were killed humanely, and cellular, mRNA and protein analyses were undertaken. Statin-treated animals demonstrated a statistically significant reduction in both macrophage and lymphocyte populations in the lung compared to radiation alone as well as improved rates of survival and decreased collagen content. In addition, ELISA measurements showed that radiation-induced increases in Mcp1 protein were reduced by statin treatment. Additional experiments are needed to assess whether statins offer a potential treatment for the amelioration of late effects in breast and lung cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy.
No preview · Article · Jun 2004 · Radiation Research