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The Time Course of Radiation-induced Lung Injury in a Nonhuman Primate Model of Partial-body Irradiation With Minimal Bone Marrow Sparing

Clinical and Radiographic Evidence and the Effect of Neupogen Administration

MacVittie, Thomas J.1; Farese, Ann M.1; Parker, George A.2; Jackson, William III3

doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000000968

The primary objectives of two companion manuscripts were to assess the natural history of delayed radiation-induced lung injury in a nonhuman primate model of acute high-dose, partial-body irradiation with 5% bone marrow sparing, to include the clinical, radiographic, and histopathological evidence and the effect of Neupogen administration on the morbidity and mortality. Nonhuman primates were exposed to 10.0 or 11.0 Gy with 6 MV linac-derived photons at approximately 0.80 Gy min−1. All nonhuman primates received subject-based, medical management. Subsets of nonhuman primates were administered Neupogen (10 μg kg−1) starting on day 1, day 3, or day 5 until recovery (absolute neutrophil count ≥ 1,000 cells μL−1 for three consecutive days). Mortality due to multiple organ injury at 180 d study duration: Mortality at 180 d post either 10.0 Gy or 11.0 Gy was the consequence of concurrent injury due to the acute radiation syndrome (gastrointestinal and hematological) and delayed radiation-induced lung injury. The 180-d all-cause mortality observed in the control cohorts at 10.0 Gy (53%) or 11.0 Gy (86%) did not vary from cohorts that received Neupogen at any administration schedule. Mortality ranged from 43–50% (10 Gy) to 75–100% (11.0 Gy) in the Neupogen-treated cohorts. The study, however, was not powered to detect statistical significant differences between mortality in the control and Neupogen-treated cohorts. Clinical and radiographic evidence of radiation-induced lung injury: The mean nonsedated respiratory rate in the control cohorts exposed to 10 or 11 Gy increased from a baseline value of 37 breaths min−1 to >60 breaths min−1 within 103 d and 94 d postexposure, and the incidence of nonsedated respiratory rate > 80 breaths min−1 was 50% and 70%, respectively. The mean duration of latency to development of clinical pneumonitis and/or fibrosis (nonsedated respiratory rate > 80 breaths min−1) was not significantly different between the 10.0-Gy or 11.0 Gy-cohorts (range 100–107 d). Neupogen (granulocyte colony-stimulating factor) administration had no apparent effect of the latency, incidence, or severity of nonsedated respiratory rate within either radiation dose or administration schedule. Computed tomography scans were obtained and images were analyzed for evidence of lung injury, e.g., pneumonitis and/or fibrosis, pleural and pericardial effusion. A quantitative, semiautomated method was developed based on differences in radiodensity (Hounsfield units) and lung morphology to extract the volume of pneumonitis/fibrosis and pleural effusion as indexed against total lung at each time point obtained. At both irradiation doses, 100% of the nonhuman primates surviving acute radiation syndrome manifested radiographic evidence of radiation-induced lung injury as pneumonitis and/or fibrosis. There was no apparent effect of Neupogen administration on the latency, incidence, severity, or progression of pneumonitis/fibrosis:total lung volume or pleural effusion:total lung volume at either exposure. A comparative review of the data illustrated the concomitant time course of increased mortality, nonsedated respiratory rate, and pneumonitis/fibrosis:total lung volume and pleural effusion:total lung volume consequent to 10.0-Gy or 11.0-Gy partial-body irradiation with 5% bone marrow sparing. All key parameters proceeded from a latent period of approximately 60 d followed by an increase in all three indices of clinical and radiographic evidence of radiation-induced lung injury within the next 60 d to 120 d postexposure. The subsequent time course and longitudinal analysis was influenced by the persistent progression of radiation-induced lung injury, administration of dexamethasone, and loss of nonhuman primates due to lethality. Companion paper: Lung and Heart Injury in a Nonhuman Primate Model of Partial-body Irradiation With Minimal Bone Marrow Sparing: Histopathological Evidence of Lung and Heart Injury (Parker et al. 2019): Note that the computed tomography-based radiodensity data do not permit differentiation of pneumonitis and fibrosis. The companion paper employed Masson’s trichrome, collagen 1, and selected staining to identify the key time and incidence parameters relative to excessive collagen deposition indicative of fibrosis and associated histopathology in the lung. This histological database provided valuable longitudinal analysis in support of the clinical and radiographic evidence associated with the time course of radiation-induced lung injury.

1University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD;

2Charles River Laboratories, Durham, NC;

3Statistician, Rockville, MD.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

For correspondence contact Thomas J. MacVittie, 10 South Pine Street, MSTF 6-04A Baltimore, MD 21201, or email at

(Manuscript accepted 5 August 2018)

© 2019 by the Health Physics Society