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FASEB J. 2011 Oct;25(10):3388-400. doi: 10.1096/fj.11-183970. Epub 2011 Jun 28.

Role of sphingolipids in murine radiation-induced lung injury: protection by sphingosine 1-phosphate analogs.

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  • 1Institute for Personalized Respiratory Medicine, Section of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.


Clinically significant radiation-induced lung injury (RILI) is a common toxicity in patients administered thoracic radiotherapy. Although the molecular etiology is poorly understood, we previously characterized a murine model of RILI in which alterations in lung barrier integrity surfaced as a potentially important pathobiological event and genome-wide lung gene mRNA levels identified dysregulation of sphingolipid metabolic pathway genes. We hypothesized that sphingolipid signaling components serve as modulators and novel therapeutic targets of RILI. Sphingolipid involvement in murine RILI was confirmed by radiation-induced increases in lung expression of sphingosine kinase (SphK) isoforms 1 and 2 and increases in the ratio of ceramide to sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) and dihydro-S1P (DHS1P) levels in plasma, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, and lung tissue. Mice with a targeted deletion of SphK1 (SphK1(-/-)) or with reduced expression of S1P receptors (S1PR1(+/-), S1PR2(-/-), and S1PR3(-/-)) exhibited marked RILI susceptibility. Finally, studies of 3 potent vascular barrier-protective S1P analogs, FTY720, (S)-FTY720-phosphonate (fTyS), and SEW-2871, identified significant RILI attenuation and radiation-induced gene dysregulation by the phosphonate analog, fTyS (0.1 and 1 mg/kg i.p., 2×/wk) and to a lesser degree by SEW-2871 (1 mg/kg i.p., 2×/wk), compared with those in controls. These results support the targeting of S1P signaling as a novel therapeutic strategy in RILI.

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