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Exp Lung Res. 2004 Jul-Aug;30(5):369-82.

Inflammatory cell recruitment following thoracic irradiation.

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Department of Environmental Medicine, University of Rochester, New York 14642, USA.


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.

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