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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1999 Jan 1;43(1):169-81.

Intratracheal injection of adenovirus containing the human MnSOD transgene protects athymic nude mice from irradiation-induced organizing alveolitis.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, PA 15213, USA.



A dose and volume limiting factor in radiation treatment of thoracic cancer is the development of fibrosis in normal lung. The goal of the present study was to determine whether expression prior to irradiation of a transgene for human manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) or human copper/zinc superoxide dismutase (Cu/ZnSOD) protects against irradiation-induced lung damage in mice.


Athymic Nude (Nu/J) mice were intratracheally injected with 10(9) plaque-forming units (PFU) of a replication-incompetent mutant adenovirus construct containing the gene for either human MnSOD, human copper/zinc superoxide dismutase (Cu/ZnSOD) or LacZ. Four days later the mice were irradiated to the pulmonary cavity to doses of 850, 900, or 950 cGy. To demonstrate adenoviral infection, nested reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was carried out with primers specific for either human MnSOD or Cu/ZnSOD transgene on freshly explanted lung, trachea, or alveolar type II cells, and immunohistochemistry was used to measure LacZ expression. RNA was extracted on day 0, 1, 4, or 7 after 850 cGy of irradiation from lungs of mice that had previously received adenovirus or had no treatment. Slot blot analysis was performed to quantitate RNA expression for IL-1, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, TGF-beta, MnSOD, or Cu/ZnSOD. Lung tissue was explanted and tested for biochemical activity of MnSOD or Cu/ZnSOD after adenovirus injection. Other mice were sacrificed 132 days after irradiation, lungs excised, frozen in OCT, (polyvinyl alcohol, polyethylene glycol mixture) sectioned, H&E stained, and evaluated for percent of the lung demonstrating organizing alveolitis.


Mice injected intratracheally with adenovirus containing the gene for human MnSOD had significantly reduced chronic lung irradiation damage following 950 cGy, compared to control mice or mice injected with adenovirus containing the gene for human Cu/ZnSOD or LacZ. Immunohistochemistry for LacZ protein in adenovirus LacZ (Ad-LacZ)-injected mice demonstrated expression of LacZ in both the upper and lower airway. Nested RT-PCR showed lung expression of MnSOD and Cu/ZnSOD for at least 11 days following infection with each respective adenovirus construct. Nested RT-PCR using primers specific for human MnSOD demonstrated increased expression of the human MnSOD transgene in the trachea and alveolar type II cells 4 days after virus injection on the day of irradiation. At this time point, increased biochemical activity of MnSOD and Cu/ZnSOD respectively, was detected in lungs from these two adenovirus groups, compared to each other or to control or adenovirus LacZ mice. Slot blot analysis of RNA from lungs of mice in each group following 850 cGy irradiation demonstrated decreased expression of mRNA for interleukin-I (IL-1), TNF-alpha, and transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) in the MnSOD adenovirus-injected mice, compared to irradiated control, LacZ, or Cu/ZnSOD adenovirus-injected, irradiated mice. Mice receiving adenovirus MnSOD showed decreased organizing alveolitis at 132 days in all three dose groups, compared to irradiated control or Ad-LacZ, or Ad-Cu/ZnSOD mice.


Overexpression of MnSOD in the lungs of mice prior to irradiation prevents irradiation-induced acute and chronic damage quantitated as decreased levels of mRNA for IL-1, TNF-alpha, and TGF-beta in the days immediately following irradiation, and decrease in the percent of lung demonstrating fibrosis or organizing alveolitis at 132 days. These data provide a rational basis for development of gene therapy as a method of protection of the normal lung from acute and chronic sequelae of ionizing irradiation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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