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Radiat Res. 2008 Apr;169(4):384-96. doi: 10.1667/RR1204.1.

Dietary antioxidants protect hematopoietic cells and improve animal survival after total-body irradiation.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


The purpose of this study was to determine whether a dietary supplement consisting of L-selenomethionine, vitamin C, vitamin E succinate, alpha-lipoic acid and N-acetyl cysteine could improve the survival of mice after total-body irradiation. Antioxidants significantly increased the 30-day survival of mice after exposure to a potentially lethal dose of X rays when given prior to or after animal irradiation. Pretreatment of animals with antioxidants resulted in significantly higher total white blood cell and neutrophil counts in peripheral blood at 4 and 24 h after 1 Gy and 8 Gy. Antioxidants were effective in preventing peripheral lymphopenia only after low-dose irradiation. Antioxidant supplementation was also associated with increased bone marrow cell counts after irradiation. Supplementation with antioxidants was associated with increased Bcl2 and decreased Bax, caspase 9 and TGF-beta1 mRNA expression in the bone marrow after irradiation. Maintenance of the antioxidant diet was associated with improved recovery of the bone marrow after sublethal or potentially lethal irradiation. Taken together, oral supplementation with antioxidants appears to be an effective approach for radioprotection of hematopoietic cells and improvement of animal survival, and modulation of apoptosis is implicated as a mechanism for the radioprotection of the hematopoietic system by antioxidants.

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