Tissue responses to low protracted doses of high LET radiations or photons: early and late damage relevant to radio-protective countermeasures.
Early and late murine tissue responses to single or fractionated low doses of heavy charged particles, fission-spectrum neutrons or gamma rays are considered. Damage to the hematopoietic system is emphasized, but results on acute lethality, host response to challenge with transplanted leukemia cells and life-shortening are presented. Low dose rates per fraction were used in some neutron experiments. Split-dose lethality studies (LD 50/30) with fission neutrons indicated greater accumulation of injury during a 9 fraction course (over 17 days) than was the case for gamma-radiation. When total doses of 96 or 247 cGy of neutrons or gamma rays were given as a single dose or in 9 fractions, a significant sparing effect on femur CFU-S depression was observed for both radiation qualities during the first 11 days, but there was not an earlier return to normal with dose fractionation. During the 9 fraction sequence, a significant sparing effect of low dose rate on CFU-S depression was observed in both neutron and gamma-irradiated mice. CFU-S content at the end of the fractionation sequence did not correlate with measured LD 50/30. Sustained depression of femur and spleen CFU-S and a significant thrombocytopenia were observed when a total neutron dose of 240 cGy was given in 72 fractions over 24 weeks at low dose rates. The temporal aspects of CFU-S repopulation were different after a single versus fractionated neutron doses. The sustained reduction in the size of the CFU-S population was accompanied by an increase in the fraction in DNA synthesis. The proliferation characteristics and effects of age were different for radial CFU-S population closely associated with bone, compared with the axial population that can be readily aspirated from the femur. In aged irradiated animals, the CFU-S proliferation/redistribution response to typhoid vaccine showed both an age and radiation effect. After high single doses of neutrons or gamma rays, a significant age- and radiation-related deficiency in host defense mechanisms was detected by a shorter mean survival time following challenge with transplantable leukemia cells. Comparison of dose-response curves for life shortening after irradiation with fission-spectrum neutrons or high energy silicon particles indicated high initial slopes for both radiation qualities at low doses, but for higher doses of silicon, the effect per Gy decreased to a value similar to that for gamma rays. The two component life-shortening curve for silicon particles has implications for the potential efficacy of radioprotectants. Recent studies on protection against early and late effects by aminothiols, prostaglandins, and other compounds are discussed.