Purpose of review: Therapeutic exposure to high doses of radiation can severely impair organ function due to ablation of stem cells. Normal tissue injury is a dose-limiting toxicity for radiation therapy (RT). Although advances in the delivery of high precision conformal RT has increased normal tissue sparing, mitigating and therapeutic strategies that could alleviate early and chronic radiation effects are urgently needed in order to deliver curative doses of RT, especially in abdominal, pelvic and thoracic malignancies. Radiation-induced gastrointestinal injury is also a major cause of lethality from accidental or intentional exposure to whole body irradiation in the case of nuclear accidents or terrorism. This review examines the therapeutic options for mitigation of non-hematopoietic radiation injuries.
Recent findings: We have developed stem cell based therapies for the mitigation of acute radiation syndrome (ARS) and radiation-induced gastrointestinal syndrome (RIGS). This is a promising option because of the robustness of standardized isolation and transplantation of stromal cells protocols, and their ability to support and replace radiation-damaged stem cells and stem cell niche. Stromal progenitor cells (SPC) represent a unique multipotent and heterogeneous cell population with regenerative, immunosuppressive, anti-inflammatory, and wound healing properties. SPC are also known to secrete various key cytokines and growth factors such as platelet derived growth factors (PDGF), keratinocyte growth factor (KGF), R-spondins (Rspo), and may consequently exert their regenerative effects via paracrine function. Additionally, secretory vesicles such as exosomes or microparticles can potentially be a cell-free alternative replacing the cell transplant in some cases.
Summary: This review highlights the beneficial effects of SPC on tissue regeneration with their ability to (a) target the irradiated tissues, (b) recruit host stromal cells, (c) regenerate endothelium and epithelium, (d) and secrete regenerative and immunomodulatory paracrine signals to control inflammation, ulceration, wound healing and fibrosis.
Keywords: Epithelial Regeneration; Exosomes; Growth factors; Inflammation; Intestinal Stem Cells; Radiation Induced Gastrointestinal Diseases; Stromal Progenitor Cells; Vascularization.