Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2006 Jan 1;64(1):98-105. Epub 2005 Oct 13.

Secondary radiation damage as the main cause for unexpected volume effects: a histopathologic study of the parotid gland.

Author information

  • 1Department of Radiation and Stress Cell Biology, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.



To elucidate with a histopathological study the mechanism of region-dependent volume effects in the partly irradiated parotid gland of the rat.


Wistar rats were locally X-irradiated with collimators with conformal radiation portals for 100% volume and 50% cranial/caudal partial volumes. Single doses up to 40 Gy were applied. Parotid saliva samples were collected, and the three lobes of the parotid gland were examined individually on the macro- and micromorphologic level up to 1 year after irradiation.


Dose-dependent loss of gland weight was observed 1 year after total or partial X-irradiation. Weight loss of the glands correlated very well with loss of secretory function. Irradiating the cranial 50% volume (implicating a shielded lateral lobe) resulted in substantially more damage in terms of weight loss and loss of secretory function than 50% caudal irradiation (shielding the ventral and dorsal lobe). Histologic examinations of the glands 1 year after irradiation revealed that the shielded lateral lobe was severely affected, in contrast to the shielded ventral and dorsal lobes. Time studies showed that irradiation of the cranial 50% volume caused late development of secondary damage in the shielded lateral lobe, becoming manifest between 240 and 360 days after irradiation. The possible clinical significance of this finding is discussed.


It is concluded that the observed region-dependent volume effect for late function loss in the rat parotid gland after partial irradiation is mainly caused by secondary events in the shielded lateral lobe. The most probable first step (primary radiation event) in the development of this secondary damage is radiation exposure to the hilus region (located between the ventral and dorsal lobe). By injuring major excretory ducts and supply routes for blood and nerves in this area, the facility system necessary for proper functioning of the nonexposed lateral lobe is seriously affected. The unexpected volume effect in the rat might have consequences for treatment strategies in radiotherapy, implicating not only salivary glands but also other organs with a seemingly homogeneous distribution of radiosensitive elements, a situation wherein volume effects have not been anticipated up to now.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk