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Effects of Diet on Late Radiation Injuries in Rats

Moulder, John E.1; Fish, Brian L.1; Cohen, Eric P.2; Flowers, Jessica B.3; Medhora, Meetha1

doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000000944

It has been speculated that the addition of antioxidants to diet could act as either radioprotectors or as mitigators of radiation injury. In preparation for studies of the mitigation efficacy of antioxidants, rats were placed on a modified version of AIN-76A, the diet typically used in such studies. This AIN-76A diet is refined and has no synthetic antioxidants or isoflavones. Compared to the natural-ingredient Teklad 8904 diet used in previous studies, use of the AIN-76A diet from 1–18 wk after irradiation significantly reduced injury in a radiation nephropathy model. A confirmation study included an additional arm in which the AIN-76A diet was started 2 wk prior to irradiation; again, the switch to AIN-76A postirradiation mitigated radiation nephropathy (p < 0.001), but switching to the AIN-76A diet preirradiation had no effect (p > 0.2). The two diets do not differ in salt content, but the AIN-76A diet is somewhat lower in protein (18% vs. 24%). The protein source (primarily soy in Teklad 8904 vs. casein in AIN-76A) might explain the effects. However, replacing the casein in AIN-76A with soy did not change the mitigation efficacy of the diet (p > 0.2 for comparison of the different AIN-76A diets). A similar study in a rat radiation pneumonitis model also suggested mitigation by postirradiation use of AIN-76A, although the effect was not statistically significant (p = 0.07). In conclusion, base diet alone can have biologically significant effects on organ radiosensitivity, but the mechanistic basis for the effect and its dependence of timing relative to irradiation are unclear.

1Department of Radiation Oncology, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI;

2Department of Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Baltimore VA Medical Center, Baltimore, MD;

3Envigo Teklad Diets, Madison, WI.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

For correspondence contact John E. Moulder, Radiation Oncology, Medical College of Wisconsin, 8701 Watertown Plank Road, Milwaukee, WI 53226, or email at

(Manuscript accepted 1 July 2018)

© 2019 by the Health Physics Society