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Yakugaku Zasshi. 2006 Oct;126(10):849-57.

[Induction of glutathione and activation of immune functions by low-dose, whole-body irradiation with gamma-rays].

[Article in Japanese]

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Department of Radiation Biosciences, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Tokyo University of Science, Noda City, Japan.


We first examined the relation between the induction of glutathione and immune functions in mice after low-dose gamma-ray irradiation. Thereafter, inhibition of tumor growth by radiation was confirmed in Ehrlich solid tumor (EST)-bearing mice. The total glutathione level of the splenocytes transiently increased soon after irradiation and reached a maximum at around 4 h postirradiation. Thereafter, the level reverted to the 0 h value by 24 h postirradiation. A significantly high splenocyte proliferative response was also recognized 4 h postirradiation. Natural killer (NK) activity was also increased significantly in a similar manner. The time at which the response reached the maximum coincided well with that of maximum total glutathione levels of the splenocytes in the gamma-ray-irradiated mice. Reduced glutathione exogenously added to splenocytes obtained from normal mice enhanced the proliferative response and NK activity in a dose-dependent manner. The inhibitory effects of radiation on tumor growth was then examined in EST-bearing mice. Repeated low-dose irradiation (0.5 Gy, four times, before and within an early time after inoculation) significantly delayed the tumor growth. Finally, the effect of single low-dose (0.5 Gy), whole-body gamma-ray irradiation on immune balance was examined to elucidate the mechanism underlying the antitumor immunity. The percentage of B cells in blood lymphocytes was selectively decreased after radiation, concomitant with an increase in that of the helper T cell population. The IFN-gamma level in splenocyte culture prepared from EST-bearing mice was significantly increased 48 h after radiation, although the level of IL-4 was unchanged. IL-12 secretion from macrophages was also enhanced by radiation. These results suggest that low-dose gamma-rays induce Th1 polarization and enhance the activities of tumoricidal effector cells, leading to an inhibition of tumor growth.

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