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Radiother Oncol. 1994 Apr;31(1):51-60.

Disruption of the blood-brain barrier as the primary effect of CNS irradiation.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Rochester, NY 14642.


The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is believed to be unique in organ microcirculation due to the 'tight junctions' which exist between endothelial cells and, some argue, the additional functional components represented by the perivascular boundary of neuroglial cells; these selectively exclude proteins and drugs from the brain parenchyma. This study was designed to examine the effects of irradiation on the BBB and determine the impact of the altered pathophysiology on the production of central nervous system (CNS) late effects such as demyelination, gliosis and necrosis. Rats, irradiated at 60 Gy, were serially sacrificed at 2, 6, 12 and 24 weeks. Magnetic resonance image analysis (MRI) was obtained prior to sacrifice with selected animals from each group. The remaining animals underwent horse-radish peroxidase (HRP) perfusion at the time of sacrifice. The serial studies showed a detectable disruption of the BBB at 2 weeks post-irradiation and this was manifested as discrete leakage; late injury seen at 24 weeks indicated diffuse vasculature leakage, severe loss of the capillary network, cortical atrophy and white matter necrosis. Reversal or repair of radiation injury was seen between 6 and 12 weeks, indicating a bimodal peak in events. Blood-brain barrier disruption is an early, readily recognizable pathophysiological event occurring after radiation injury, is detectable in vivo/in vitro by MRI and HRP studies, and appears to precede white matter necrosis. Dose response studies over a wide range of doses, utilizing both external and interstitial irradiation, are in progress along with correlative histopathologic and ultrastructural studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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