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Health Phys. 1996 Jun;70(6):787-97.

Stem cell responses after radiation exposure: A key to the evaluation and prediction of its effects.

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Department of Clinical Physiology, Occupational and Social Medicine, University of Ulm, Federal Republic of Germany.


A biomathematical model of granulocytopoiesis is described and used to analyze the blood granulocyte changes seen in the blood of dogs and humans after continuous and after acute external radiation exposure. This allows to relate the cell change pattern seen to the extent of stem cell damage in the hematopoietic bone marrow distributed as semi-autonomous units throughout the skeletal bones. The model is described briefly and consists of 8 cellular and 2 regulatory compartments and is described by 37 differential equations. With the help of this model, it can be shown that the chronic radiation exposure of dogs at a rate of between 0.003 and 0.12 Gy per day results in a system failure with subsequent death of the animal, if the stem cell pool decreases below 2.5% of its normal content. In human beings exposed to a single radiation exposure (as seen in radiation accidents) the simulation of the granulocyte pattern results in the finding that a reduction of the stem cell pool to 5-10% of normal is compatible with the assumption of its "reversible" damage (to be treated by conventional replacement therapy including cytokines), whereas the reduction of blood granulocytes to levels of less than 200-300 per mm3 on day 5-6 after exposure indicates that no stem cells remain from which a spontaneous regeneration could occur and hence would require a substitution therapy by stem cell transplantation. In order to test the approach, the same model was used to correlate the changing granulocyte pattern seen after autologous blood stem cell transfusion in patients treated with a supralethal radiochemo conditioning regimen. The results indicate a proportionality of progenitor cells in the transfusate with the calculated stem cell number of the modeling exercise. It is proposed to use the pattern of granulocyte changes in the blood as a principal indicator to predict the outcome of a radiation exposure and to select appropriate therapeutic strategies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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