Prevention of radiotherapy-induced arterial inflammation by interleukin-1 blockade

Eur Heart J. 2019 Aug 7;40(30):2495-2503. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehz206.


Aims: Radiotherapy-induced cardiovascular disease is an emerging problem in a growing population of cancer survivors where traditional treatments, such as anti-platelet and lipid-lowering drugs, have limited benefits. The aim of the study was to investigate vascular inflammatory patterns in human cancer survivors, replicate the findings in an animal model, and evaluate whether interleukin-1 (IL-1) inhibition could be a potential treatment.

Methods and results: Irradiated human arterial biopsies were collected during microvascular autologous free tissue transfer for cancer reconstruction and compared with non-irradiated arteries from the same patient. A mouse model was used to study the effects of the IL-1 receptor antagonist, anakinra, on localized radiation-induced vascular inflammation. We observed significant induction of genes associated with inflammasome biology in whole transcriptome analysis of irradiated arteries, a finding supported by elevated protein levels in irradiated arteries of both, pro-caspase and caspase-1. mRNA levels of inflammasome associated chemokines CCL2, CCL5 together with the adhesion molecule VCAM1, were elevated in human irradiated arteries as was the number of infiltrating macrophages. A similar pattern was reproduced in Apoe-/- mouse 10 weeks after localized chest irradiation with 14 Gy. Treatment with anakinra in irradiated mice significantly reduced Ccl2 and Ccl5 mRNA levels and expression of I-Ab.

Conclusion: Anakinra, administered directly after radiation exposure for 2 weeks, ameliorated radiation induced sustained expression of inflammatory mediators in mice. Further studies are needed to evaluate IL-1 blockade as a treatment of radiotherapy-induced vascular disease in a clinical setting.

Keywords: Anakinra; CCL2; Interleukin-1; MCP-1; Radiation; Vascular disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arteritis / etiology
  • Arteritis / prevention & control*
  • Chemokine CCL2 / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein / pharmacology*
  • Interleukin-1 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Interleukin-1 / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Radiation Injuries, Experimental / metabolism
  • Radiation Injuries, Experimental / prevention & control*
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects*


  • Chemokine CCL2
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein
  • Interleukin-1