Purpose: Radiotherapy (RT) is commonly used to treat most pelvic malignancies. While treatment is often effective, curative radiation doses to the rectum can result in chronic radiation-induced proctitis, which is characterized by diarrhea, tenesmus, and/or rectal bleeding, recently termed pelvic radiation disease. An animal model of chronic radiation-induced proctitis would be useful to test both preventative and therapeutic strategies to limit this morbidity but has been elusive because of the high rodent mortality associated with acute bowel RT injury. The objective of this research was to develop a novel mouse model of chronic radiation-induced proctitis using advanced technology.
Methods and materials: Using an X-RAD 225-Cx (Precision X-Ray) small animal irradiator, multiple plan configurations were evaluated for planning treatment volume and organ-at-risk avoidance to deliver a 15 Gy 3D conformal treatment plan. The final plan was verified by high resolution 3D dosimetry (PRESAGE/optical-CT), and delivered using a single arc. Mice were monitored for mortality for 250 days, followed by histopathological correlates including mucicarmine, Masson's trichrome, and fecal pellet length.
Results: Six beam arrangements were considered: single and parallel-opposed fields with whole-pelvis coverage, and collimated fields in parallel-opposed, 3-field, 4-field, and arc geometries. A collimated arc plan offered superior planning treatment volume coverage and organ-at-risk avoidance compared to whole-pelvis irradiation. Treatment verification with PRESAGE 3D dosimetry (Heuris Inc) showed >99% of voxels passing gamma analysis with 2%/2 mm criteria. Our treatment resulted in no acute mortality and 40% mortality at 250 days. Histopathological analysis showed increased mucous production and fibrosis of the irradiated colon, but no change in fecal pellet length.
Conclusions: Our model was able to target successfully lower colon and rectum with lower mortality than other published models. This permitted measurement of late effects that recapitulate some features of rectal damage in humans.
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