Targets for protection and mitigation of radiation injury

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2020 Aug;77(16):3129-3159. doi: 10.1007/s00018-020-03479-x. Epub 2020 Feb 18.


Protection of normal tissues against toxic effects of ionizing radiation is a critical issue in clinical and environmental radiobiology. Investigations in recent decades have suggested potential targets that are involved in the protection against radiation-induced damages to normal tissues and can be proposed for mitigation of radiation injury. Emerging evidences have been shown to be in contrast to an old dogma in radiation biology; a major amount of reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and cell toxicity occur during some hours to years after exposure to ionizing radiation. This can be attributed to upregulation of inflammatory and fibrosis mediators, epigenetic changes and disruption of the normal metabolism of oxygen. In the current review, we explain the cellular and molecular changes following exposure of normal tissues to ionizing radiation. Furthermore, we review potential targets that can be proposed for protection and mitigation of radiation toxicity.

Keywords: Acute radiation syndrome (ARS); Fibrosis; Inflammation; Mitigation; Mitochondria; Normal tissue injury; Pneumonitis; ROS; Radiation; Redox.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / physiology
  • Humans
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Radiation Injuries / metabolism*
  • Radiation Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Radiation, Ionizing
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Reactive Oxygen Species