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Free Radic Res. 2018 May;52(5):556-567. doi: 10.1080/10715762.2018.1452204.

The effect of carbon irradiation is associated with greater oxidative stress in mouse intestine and colon relative to γ-rays.

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a Department of Biochemistry and Molecular & Cellular Biology and Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center , Georgetown University , Washington , DC , USA.


Carbon irradiation due to its higher biological effectiveness relative to photon radiation is a concern for toxicity to proliferative normal gastrointestinal (GI) tissue after radiotherapy and long-duration space missions such as mission to Mars. Although radiation-induced oxidative stress is linked to chronic diseases such as cancer, effects of carbon irradiation on normal GI tissue have not been fully understood. This study assessed and compared chronic oxidative stress in mouse intestine and colon after different doses of carbon and γ radiation, which are qualitatively different. Mice (C57BL/6J) were exposed to 0.5 or 1.3 Gy of γ or carbon irradiation, and intestinal and colonic tissues were collected 2 months after irradiation. While part of the tissues was used for isolating epithelial cells, tissue samples were also fixed and paraffin embedded for 4 µm thick sections as well as frozen for biochemical assays. In isolated epithelial cells, reactive oxygen species and mitochondrial status were studied using fluorescent probes and flow cytometry. We assessed antioxidant enzymes and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase activity in tissues and formalin-fixed tissue sections were stained for 4-hydroxynonenal, a lipid peroxidation marker. Data show that mitochondrial deregulation, increased NADPH oxidase activity, and decreased antioxidant activity were major contributors to carbon radiation-induced oxidative stress in mouse intestinal and colonic cells. When considered along with higher lipid peroxidation after carbon irradiation relative to γ-rays, our data have implications for functional changes in intestine and carcinogenesis in colon after carbon radiotherapy as well as space travel.


Oxidative stress; carbon irradiation; intestine and colon; mouse; radiotherapy; space radiation

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