Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1999 Aug 1;45(1):147-52.

Interferon gamma in survivors of the Chernobyl power plant accident: new therapeutic option for radiation-induced fibrosis.

Author information

  • 1Department of Dermatology, University of Ulm, Germany.



One of the remarkable clinical consequences of the Chernobyl accident was skin involvement, leading to extensive cutaneous fibrosis. Apart from surgery, no established treatment is available.


A group of survivors, working in or present at the accident site on April 26, 1986, and a few days thereafter, were examined, treated, and followed-up in 6-month intervals from September 1991 to November 1995. Eight individuals were identified as suffering from excessive cutaneous fibrosis. Skin thickness was measured with high-frequency (20 MHz) ultrasound in a clinically well-defined target skin lesion, in addition to histologic confirmation of radiation fibrosis. Interferon gamma was scheduled for all patients on a low-dose regimen (3 x 50 microg/week s.c.). In 2 patients, interferon was discontinued after the first injection, due to withdrawal of consent. In 6 patients, interferon was continued for 30 months, with 1 injection weekly for a further 6 months. Treatment was discontinued in November 1994. Four patients in the treated group and 1 of the 2 patients treated only once ("untreated patients") were reexamined 1 year later.


In all individuals treated for 36 months, a significant (p < 0.005) reduction of radiation fibrosis could be determined, in contrast to a significant (p < 0.005) increase in the 2 untreated patients. Follow-up 1 year after discontinuation of the interferon treatment demonstrated significant (p < 0.005) recurrence of fibrosis.


Low-dose interferon appears to be a safe and effective treatment of cutaneous radiation fibrosis following accidental exposure to high doses of ionizing radiation. Long-term supportive therapy may be required.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center