Early-response Biomarkers for Assessment of Radiation Exposure in a Mouse Total-body Irradiation Model

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Nuclear accidents or terrorist attacks could expose large numbers of people to ionizing radiation. Early biomarkers of radiation injury will be critical for triage, treatment, and follow-up of such individuals. The authors evaluated the utility of multiple blood biomarkers for early-response assessment of radiation exposure using a murine (CD2F1, males) total-body irradiation (TBI) model exposed to 60Co γ rays (0.6 Gy min−1) over a broad dose range (0–14 Gy) and timepoints (4 h–5 d). Results demonstrate: 1) dose-dependent changes in hematopoietic cytokines: Flt‐3 ligand (Flt3L), interleukin 6 (IL‐6), granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF), thrombopoietin (TPO), erythropoietin (EPO), and acute phase protein serum amyloid A (SAA); 2) dose-dependent changes in blood cell counts: lymphocytes, neutrophils, platelets, and ratio of neutrophils to lymphocytes; 3) protein results coupled with peripheral blood cell counts established very successful separation of groups irradiated to different doses; and 4) enhanced separation of dose was observed as the number of biomarkers increased. Results show that the dynamic changes in the levels of SAA, IL‐6, G-CSF, and Flt3L reflect the time course and severity of acute radiation syndrome (ARS) and may function as prognostic indicators of ARS outcome. These results also demonstrate proof-in-concept that plasma proteins show promise as a complimentary approach to conventional biodosimetry for early assessment of radiation exposures and, coupled with peripheral blood cell counts, provide early diagnostic information to manage radiation casualty incidents effectively, closing a gap in capabilities to rapidly and effectively assess radiation exposure early, especially needed in case of a mass-casualty radiological incident.

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