Some six million cancer patients currently receive radiotherapy. Radiotherapy eliminates cancer cells by accelerating their death. However, radiotherapy is not selective, and it therefore harms healthy tissues around cancerous tissue. The latest studies have shown that the irradiation of biological materials causes a rapid increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the tissue as a result of exposure of the target molecule to direct and indirect ionization. N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is an antioxidant that permits the elimination of free oxygen radicals and that contributes to glutathione synthesis. Our study, therefore, examined the effects of radiation resulting from radiotherapy on the small intestine at the molecular level, and prospectively considered the potential protective characteristics of NAC against gastrointestinal syndrome resulting from radiotherapy.
Keywords: Apoptosis; N-acetylcysteine; caspase-3; ionizing radiation; oxidative stress; rat.