Experimental Quantification of Delayed Radiation-Induced Organ Damage in Highly Irradiated Rats With Bone Marrow Protection: Effect of Radiation Dose and Organ Sensitivity

Health Phys. 2015 Aug;109(2):134-44. doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000000300.


The evolution of organ damage following extensive high-dose irradiation remains largely unexplored and needs further investigation. Wistar rats [with or without partial bone marrow protection (∼20%)] were irradiated at lethal gamma-ray doses (12, 14, and 16 Gy) and received antibiotic support. While total-body-irradiated rats did not survive, bone marrow protection (achieved by protecting hind limbs behind a lead wall) combined with antibiotic support allowed survival of 12-Gy and 14-Gy irradiated rats for more than 3 mo, with a late phase of body weight loss and altered clinical status. Histological analysis of radiation-induced damages in visceral organs (liver, kidney, and ileum), performed 64 and 104 d after high-dose body irradiation, indicates that the extent and the evolution of damage depend on both the irradiation dose and organ. A dose-related aggravation of lesions was observed in the liver and kidney but not in the ileum. In contrast to the liver, alterations in the kidney and ileum aggravate with time, emphasizing the need to develop new efficient countermeasures to protect both the gastrointestinal tract and kidney from late-occurring radiation effects. Specifically, the complex evolution of organ damage presented in this paper offers the possibility to explore and then validate specific therapeutic windows using candidate drugs targeted to each injured visceral organ.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Body Weight / radiation effects
  • Bone Marrow / radiation effects*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Ileum / pathology
  • Ileum / radiation effects
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Kidney / radiation effects
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver / radiation effects
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Male
  • Radiation Dosage*
  • Radiation Protection*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents