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Pulmonary irradiation-induced expression of VCAM-I and ICAM-I is decreased by manganese superoxide dismutase-plasmid/liposome (MnSOD-PL) gene therapy.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Center Institute, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.


Pulmonary toxicity is a major complication of total body irradiation used in preparation of patients for bone marrow transplantation. The mechanism of the late pulmonary damage manifested by fibrosis is unknown. In C57BL/6NHsd mice, manganese superoxide dismutase-plasmid/liposome (MnSOD-PL) intratracheal injection 24 hours prior to 20 Gy single-fraction irradiation to both lungs significantly reduced late irradiation damage. Single intratracheal injections of MnSOD-PL, at concentrations as low as 250 microg of plasmid DNA, in a constant volume of 78 microL of liposomes, reduced late damage. To determine whether a slowly proliferating population of cells in the lung was responsible for initiation of fibrosis and was altered by MnSOD-PL therapy, 20 Gy total lung-irradiated mice were examined at serial time points for bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) uptake in sites of cell division. There was low-level, but nonsignificant, increased cell proliferation detected at 80 days, with a significant increase at 100 days, 120 days, and at the time of death. Immunohistochemical assay for up-regulation of adhesion molecules associated with recruitment, transendothelial migration, and proliferation of bronchoalveolar macrophages revealed significant up-regulation of vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) and intracellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) at 100 days with further increases up to the time of death. Increases were first detected in endothelin-positive endothelial cells. MnSOD-PL administration prior to irradiation decreased both BrdU incorporation and delayed expression of VCAM-1 and ICAM-1. The data indicate that the appearance of late irradiation-induced pulmonary fibrosis is associated with the up-regulation of adhesion molecules and suggest that potential targets for intervention may focus on the pulmonary vascular endothelium.

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