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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2012 Sep 1;84(1):238-43. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2011.11.013. Epub 2012 Jan 31.

Decreased risk of radiation pneumonitis with incidental concurrent use of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and thoracic radiation therapy.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI, USA.



Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors have been shown to mitigate radiation-induced lung injury in preclinical models. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether ACE inhibitors decrease the risk of radiation pneumonitis in lung cancer patients receiving thoracic irradiation.


Patients with Stage I through III small-cell and non-small-cell lung cancer treated definitively with radiation from 2004-2009 at the Clement J. Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center were retrospectively reviewed. Acute pulmonary toxicity was quantified within 6 months of completion of treatment according to the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events version 4. The use of ACE inhibitors, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, inhaled glucocorticosteroids, statins, and angiotensin receptor blockers; dose-volume histogram parameters; and patient factors were assessed for association with Grade 2 or higher pneumonitis.


A total of 162 patients met the criteria for inclusion. The majority of patients had Stage III disease (64%) and received concurrent chemotherapy (61%). Sixty-two patients were identified as ACE inhibitor users (38%). All patients had acceptable radiation plans based on dose-volume histogram constraints (V20 [volume of lung receiving at least 20 Gy] ≤37% and mean lung dose ≤20 Gy) with the exception of 2 patients who did not meet both criteria. Grade 2 or higher pulmonary toxicity occurred in 12 patients (7.4%). The rate of Grade 2 or higher pneumonitis was lower in ACE inhibitor users vs. nonusers (2% vs. 11%, p = 0.032). Rates of Grade 2 or higher pneumonitis were significantly increased in patients aged greater than 70 years (16% vs. 2%, p = 0.005) or in whom V5 (volume of lung receiving at least 5 Gy) was 50% or greater (13% vs. 4%, p = 0.04). V10 (volume of lung receiving at least 10 Gy), V20, V30 (volume of lung receiving at least 30 Gy), and mean lung dose were not independently associated with Grade 2 or higher pneumonitis.


ACE inhibitors may decrease the incidence of radiation pneumonitis in patients receiving thoracic radiation for lung cancer. These findings are consistent with preclinical evidence and should be prospectively evaluated.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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