Quantitative assessment of radiation dose and fractionation effects on normal tissue by utilizing a novel lung fibrosis index model

Radiat Oncol. 2017 Nov 7;12(1):172. doi: 10.1186/s13014-017-0912-y.


Background: Normal lung tissue tolerance constitutes a limiting factor in delivering the required dose of radiotherapy to cure thoracic and chest wall malignancies. Radiation-induced lung fibrosis (RILF) is considered a critical determinant for late normal tissue complications. While RILF mouse models are frequently approached e.g., as a single high dose thoracic irradiation to investigate lung fibrosis and candidate modulators, a systematic radiobiological characterization of RILF mouse model is urgently needed to compare relative biological effectiveness (RBE) of particle irradiation with protons, helium-, carbon and oxygen ions now available at HIT. We aimed to study the dose-response relationship and fractionation effect of photon irradiation in development of pulmonary fibrosis in C57BL/6 mouse.

Methods: Lung fibrosis was evaluated 24 weeks after single and fractionated whole thoracic irradiation by quantitative assessment of lung alterations using CT. The fibrosis index (FI) was determined based on 3D-segmentation of the lungs considering the two key fibrosis parameters affected by ionizing radiation i.e., a dose/fractionation dependent reduction of the total lung volume and increase of the mean lung density.

Results: The effective dose required to induce 50% of the maximal possible fibrosis (ED 50 ) was 14.55 ± 0.34Gy and 27.7 ± 1.22Gy, for single and five- fractions irradiation, respectively. Applying a deterministic model an α/β = 4.49 ± 0.38 Gy for the late lung radiosensitivity was determined. Intriguingly, we found that a linear-quadratic model could be applied to in-vivo log transformed fibrosis (FI) vs. irradiation doses. The LQ model revealed an α/β for lung radiosensitivity of 4.4879 Gy for single fraction and 3.9474 for 5-fractions. Our FI based data were in good agreement with a meta-analysis of previous lung radiosensitivity data derived from different clinical endpoints and various mouse strains. The effect of fractionation on RILF development was further estimated by the biologically effective dose (BED) model with threshold BED (BED Tr ) = 30.33 Gy and BED ED50 = 61.63 Gy, respectively.

Conclusion: The systematic radiobiological characterization of RILF in the C57BL/6 mouse reported in this study marks an important step towards precise estimation of dose-response for development of lung fibrosis. These radiobiological parameters combined with a large repertoire of genetically engineered C57BL/6 mouse models, build a solid foundation for further biologically individualized risk assessment of RILF and functional RBE prediction on novel of particle qualities.

Keywords: BED; Fractionation; Lung fibrosis; Thoracic radiotherapy; α/β ratio.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbon / chemistry
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dose Fractionation, Radiation
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Female
  • Ions / chemistry
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Oxygen / chemistry
  • Photons
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / physiopathology*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / radiotherapy*
  • Radiation Pneumonitis / physiopathology
  • Radiation Tolerance
  • Radiotherapy Dosage*
  • Relative Biological Effectiveness
  • Thoracic Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Thoracic Wall / radiation effects
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Ions
  • Carbon
  • Oxygen