A Longitudinal Study of Individual Radiation Responses in Pediatric Patients Treated with Proton and Photon Radiotherapy, and Interventional Cardiology: Rationale and Research Protocol of the HARMONIC Project

Int J Mol Sci. 2023 May 8;24(9):8416. doi: 10.3390/ijms24098416.


The Health Effects of Cardiac Fluoroscopy and Modern Radiotherapy (photon and proton) in Pediatrics (HARMONIC) is a five-year project funded by the European Commission that aimed to improve the understanding of the long-term ionizing radiation (IR) risks for pediatric patients. In this paper, we provide a detailed overview of the rationale, design, and methods for the biological aspect of the project with objectives to provide a mechanistic understanding of the molecular pathways involved in the IR response and to identify potential predictive biomarkers of individual response involved in long-term health risks. Biological samples will be collected at three time points: before the first exposure, at the end of the exposure, and one year after the exposure. The average whole-body dose, the dose to the target organ, and the dose to some important out-of-field organs will be estimated. State-of-the-art analytical methods will be used to assess the levels of a set of known biomarkers and also explore high-resolution approaches of proteomics and miRNA transcriptomes to provide an integrated assessment. By using bioinformatics and systems biology, biological pathways and novel pathways involved in the response to IR exposure will be deciphered.

Keywords: HARMONIC project; cardiac catheterization; congenital heart disease; ionizing radiation; pediatric oncology; proton radiotherapy; radiation biomarkers; radiotherapy.

MeSH terms

  • Cardiology*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Photons / therapeutic use
  • Protons*
  • Radiation Dosage


  • Protons