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Radiat Res. 1991 Oct;128(1 Suppl):S18-28.

Therapy of infections in mice irradiated in mixed neutron/photon fields and inflicted with wound trauma: a review of current work.

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Experimental Hematology Department, Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20889-5145.


When host antimicrobial defenses are severely compromised by radiation or trauma in conjunction with radiation, death from sepsis results. To evaluate therapies for sepsis in radiation casualties, we developed models of acquired and induced bacterial infections in irradiated and irradiated-wounded mice. Animals were exposed to either a mixed radiation field of equal proportions of neutrons and gamma rays (n/gamma = 1) from a TRIGA reactor or pure gamma rays from 60[Co sources. Skin wounds (15% of total body surface area) were inflicted under methoxyflurane anesthesia 1 h after irradiation. In all mice, wounding after irradiation decreased resistance to infection. Treatments with the immunomodulator synthetic trehalose dicorynomycolate (S-TDCM) before or after mixed neutron-gamma irradiation or gamma irradiation increased survival. Therapy with S-TDCM for mice irradiated with either a mixed field or gamma rays increased resistance to Klebsiella pneumoniae-induced infections. Combined therapy with S-TDCM and ceftriaxone for K. pneumoniae infections in mice exposed to a mixed radiation field or to gamma rays was more effective than single-agent therapy. In all irradiated-wounded mice, single therapy of acquired infections with an antibiotic or S-TDCM did not increase survival. Survival of irradiated-wounded mice after topical application of gentamicin sulfate cream suggested that bacteria colonizing the wound disseminated systemically in untreated irradiated mice, resulting in death from sepsis. In lethal models of acquired infections in irradiated-wounded mice, significant increases in survival were achieved when systemic treatments with S-TDCM or gentamicin were combined with topical treatments of gentamicin cream. Therapies for sepsis in all mice exposed to a mixed field were less effective than in mice exposed to gamma rays. Nonetheless, the data show a principle by which successful therapy may be provided to individuals receiving tissue trauma in conjunction with radiation injury.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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