Radiation Induced Endothelial Cell Retraction in vitro: Correlation with Acute Pulmonary Edema

James M ONODA1, Seema S KANTAK1, Clement A DIGLIO1

0Biomide Corporation, Wayne State University, Detroit, USA
1The Gershenson Radiation Oncology Center, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, USA


We determined the effects of low dose radiation (<200 cGy) on the cell-cell integrity of confluent monolayers of pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells (PMEC). We observed dose- and time-dependent reversible radiation induced injuries to PMEC monolayers characterized by retraction (loss of cell-cell contact) mediated by cytoskeletal F-actin reorganization. Radiation induced reorganization of F-actin microfilament stress fibers was observed >30 minutes post irradiation and correlated positively with loss of cell-cell integrity. Cells of irradiated monolayers recovered to form contact inhibited monolayers >24 hours post irradiation; concomitantly, the depolymerized microfilaments organized to their pre-irradiated state as microfilament stress fibers arrayed parallel to the boundaries of adjacent contact-inhibited cells. Previous studies by other investigators have measured slight but significant increases in mouse lung wet weight >1 day post thoracic or whole body radiation (>500 cGy). Little or no data is available concerning time intervals <1 day post irradiation, possibly because of the presumption that edema is mediated, at least in part, by endothelial cell death or irreversible loss of barrier permeability functions which may only arise >1 day post irradiation. However, our in vitro data suggest that loss of endothelial barrier function may occur rapidly and at low dose levels (<200 cGy). Therefore, we determined radiation effects on lung wet weight and observed significant increases in wet weight (standardized per dry weight or per mouse weight) in <5 hours post thoracic exposure to 50-200 cGy x-radiation. We suggest that a single fraction of radiation even at low dose levels used in radiotherapy, may induce pulmonary edema by a reversible loss of endothelial cell-cell integrity and permeability barrier function. Pathology & Oncology Research, Vol 5, Nr 1, 49-55, 1999

Key words: radiation, lung, edema

Received: Feb 16, 1999; accepted: Feb 23, 1999
Correspondence: James M ONODA, Biomide Corporation, Wayne State University, 407 Life Science Building Detroit 48202, USA; Tel: 313 577 2184, Fax: 248 594 4884; E-mail: dollardoc!

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