Background: Radiation therapy is a cornerstone of oncologic treatment. Skin tolerance is often the limiting factor in radiotherapy. To study these issues and create modalities for intervention, the authors developed a novel murine model of cutaneous radiation injury.
Methods: The dorsal skin was isolated using a low-pressure clamp and irradiated. Mice were followed for 8 weeks with serial photography and laser Doppler analysis. Sequential skin biopsy specimens were taken and examined histologically. Tensiometry was performed and Young's modulus calculated.
Results: High-dose radiation isolated to dorsal skin causes progressive changes in skin perfusion, resulting in dermal thickening, fibrosis, persistent alopecia, and sometimes ulceration. There is increased dermal Smad3 expression, and decreased elasticity and bursting strength.
Conclusions: This model of cutaneous radiation injury delivers reproducible localized effects, mimicking the injury pattern seen in human subjects. This technique can be used to study radiation-induced injury to evaluate preventative and therapeutic strategies for these clinical issues.