Molecular biology mechanisms in the radiation induction of pulmonary injury syndromes: interrelationship between the alveolar macrophage and the septal fibroblast

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1992;24(1):93-101. doi: 10.1016/0360-3016(92)91027-k.


Pulmonary fibrosis is a crippling, essentially lethal chronic disease due to an interplay of events following irradiation between the pneumonitic and fibrotic phases. In this series of experiments it is demonstrated that there is no latent period after irradiation, but an immediate intercellular communication system which springs into action to initiate recovery. Latency was only a function of our inability to uncover the molecular events that precede and underlie the clinical pathologic course of organ/tissue irradiation. Current advances in understanding the production of growth factors by different cells provides new insights to autocrine, paracrine and endocrine messages as a basis for understanding radiation pathophysiology as a progressive process that is amplified by other injurious events such as chemotoxicity. This is the first demonstrated release of trophic factors (cytokines) after in vivo irradiation that persists up to a month after exposure, suggesting that the persistence of a small incremental stimulus during a silent "latent" period can be the basis for the clinical pathologic expression of a late radiation effect, that is, pulmonary interstitial fibrosis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Fibroblasts / physiology
  • Lung / radiation effects*
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / radiation effects*
  • Pneumonia / etiology
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / etiology*
  • Rabbits
  • Radiation Injuries, Experimental / etiology*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / physiology


  • Transforming Growth Factor beta