Sensitivity of salivary glands to radiation: from animal models to therapies

J Dent Res. 2009 Oct;88(10):894-903. doi: 10.1177/0022034509343143.


Radiation therapy for head and neck cancer causes significant secondary side-effects in normal salivary glands, resulting in diminished quality of life for these individuals. Salivary glands are exquisitely sensitive to radiation and display acute and chronic responses to radiotherapy. This review will discuss clinical implications of radiosensitivity in normal salivary glands, compare animal models used to investigate radiation-induced salivary gland damage, address therapeutic advances, and project future directions in the field.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / radiation effects
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Radiation Injuries / etiology*
  • Radiation Injuries / therapy
  • Radiation Tolerance / physiology*
  • Radiation-Protective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Salivary Gland Diseases / etiology*
  • Salivary Gland Diseases / therapy
  • Salivary Glands / radiation effects*
  • Signal Transduction / radiation effects


  • Radiation-Protective Agents