Radiation-induced vascular damage in tumors: implications of vascular damage in ablative hypofractionated radiotherapy (SBRT and SRS)

Radiat Res. 2012 Mar;177(3):311-27. doi: 10.1667/rr2773.1. Epub 2012 Jan 9.


We have reviewed the studies on radiation-induced vascular changes in human and experimental tumors reported in the last several decades. Although the reported results are inconsistent, they can be generalized as follows. In the human tumors treated with conventional fractionated radiotherapy, the morphological and functional status of the vasculature is preserved, if not improved, during the early part of a treatment course and then decreases toward the end of treatment. Irradiation of human tumor xenografts or rodent tumors with 5-10 Gy in a single dose causes relatively mild vascular damages, but increasing the radiation dose to higher than 10 Gy/fraction induces severe vascular damage resulting in reduced blood perfusion. Little is known about the vascular changes in human tumors treated with high-dose hypofractionated radiation such as stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) or stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS). However, the results for experimental tumors strongly indicate that SBRT or SRS of human tumors with doses higher than about 10 Gy/fraction is likely to induce considerable vascular damages and thereby damages the intratumor microenvironment, leading to indirect tumor cell death. Vascular damage may play an important role in the response of human tumors to high-dose hypofractionated SBRT or SRS.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Vessels / physiopathology
  • Blood Vessels / radiation effects*
  • Dose Fractionation, Radiation*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / blood supply*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Radiation Injuries / etiology*
  • Radiosurgery / adverse effects*


  • Oxygen