Low dose radiation induced immunomodulation: effect on macrophages and CD8+ T cells

Int J Radiat Biol. 2005 Nov;81(11):801-12. doi: 10.1080/09553000500531886.


Purpose: The aim of the present investigation was to study the effect of fractionated whole body low dose ionizing radiation (LDR) on the functional responses of T lymphocytes, their subpopulations and macrophages.

Materials and methods: C57BL/6 mice were exposed to 4 cGy from a (60)Co source, at 0.31 cGy/min, at 24 h intervals for 5 days (total dose 20 cGy). Phagocytic activity was measured by flow cytometry using Bioparticles and nitric oxide generation was estimated by spectrophotometry. Proliferation of lymphocytes in response to concanavalin A (con A) and alloantigens was measured by (3)H thymidine incorporation. Expression of cell surface markers was assessed by flow cytometric analysis of antibody labeled cells. Target cell killing by cytotoxic T cells (CTL) generated against allogenic cells was assessed by flow cytometry using PKH26 labeled target cells. Cytokines were estimated by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay.

Results: Exposure to LDR enhanced nitric oxide secretion and phagocytosis. The expression of early activation antigen, CD69, was enhanced in CD8(+) T lymphocytes concomitant with enhanced proliferation in response to con A. In addition, mixed lymphocyte reaction (MLR) and CTL response were augmented and secretion of interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) was suppressed following LDR exposure.

Conclusions: LDR exposure enhanced the function of macrophages and responses of CD8(+) T cells in C57BL/6 mice.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / radiation effects*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / immunology*
  • Female
  • Immunologic Factors / immunology
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Macrophages / radiation effects*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Nitric Oxide / immunology
  • Phagocytosis / immunology
  • Phagocytosis / radiation effects*
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Whole-Body Irradiation / methods*


  • Cytokines
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Nitric Oxide