Pro-oxidative stressors can suppress host immunity due to their ability to generate oxidized lipid agonists of the platelet-activating factor-receptor (PAF-R). As radiation therapy also induces reactive oxygen species, the present studies were designed to define whether ionizing radiation could generate PAF-R agonists and if these lipids could subvert host immunity. We demonstrate that radiation exposure of multiple tumor cell lines in-vitro, tumors in-vivo, and human subjects undergoing radiation therapy for skin tumors all generate PAF-R agonists. Structural characterization of radiation-induced PAF-R agonistic activity revealed PAF and multiple oxidized glycerophosphocholines that are produced non-enzymatically. In a murine melanoma tumor model, irradiation of one tumor augmented the growth of the other (non-treated) tumor in a PAF-R-dependent process blocked by a cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor. These results indicate a novel pathway by which PAF-R agonists produced as a byproduct of radiation therapy could result in tumor treatment failure, and offer important insights into potential therapeutic strategies that could improve the overall antitumor effectiveness of radiation therapy regimens.
Keywords: antioxidants; cyclooxygenase type 2 enzyme; oxidized glycerophosphocholines; platelet-activating factor; radiation therapy.