Purpose: Recent studies have proposed that mucositis development is the same throughout the gastrointestinal tract (GIT), as it is formed from one structure embryologically. Radiation-induced oral mucositis studies have outlined the key involvement of nuclear factor kappaB (NFkappaB) and cyclooxygenase-2 (Cox-2) in its pathobiology. The purpose of this study was therefore to investigate the expression of NFkappaB and Cox-2 in the irradiated colorectum and to correlate these with the associated histopathologic changes.
Methods and materials: Colorectal tissues from 28 colorectal cancer patients treated with preoperative radiotherapy were analyzed for histopathologic changes using a variety of tissue staining methods. The expression of NFkappaB and Cox-2 in these tissues was investigated using immunohistochemistry. Changes in expression of these proteins were then correlated with the histopathologic changes.
Results: Radiation therapy caused injury to the normal colorectal tissue surrounding tumor site, particularly around the blood vessels. These changes were reflected in changes in NFkappaB and Cox-2 expression.
Conclusions: We conclude that different regions of the GIT, the colorectum, and oral cavity have similar underlying mechanisms of radiation-induced mucositis. Understanding these mechanisms will allow new approaches to be developed to specifically target steps in the evolution of alimentary mucositis.