Kondo, H., Searby, N. D., Mojarrab, R., Phillips, J., Alwood, J., Yumoto, K., Almeida, E. A. C., Limoli, C. L. and Globus, R. K. Total-Body Irradiation of Postpubertal Mice with 137Cs Acutely Compromises the Microarchitecture of Cancellous Bone and Increases Osteoclasts. Radiat. Res. 171, 283–289 (2009).
Ionizing radiation can cause substantial tissue degeneration, which may threaten the long-term health of astronauts and radiotherapy patients. To determine whether a single dose of radiation acutely compromises structural integrity in the postpubertal skeleton, 18-week-old male mice were exposed to 137Cs γ radiation (1 or 2 Gy). The structure of high-turnover, cancellous bone was analyzed by microcomputed tomography (microCT) 3 or 10 days after irradiation and in basal controls (tissues harvested at the time of irradiation) and age-matched controls. Irradiation (2 Gy) caused a 20% decline in tibial cancellous bone volume fraction (BV/TV) within 3 days and a 43% decline within 10 days, while 1 Gy caused a 28% reduction 10 days later. The BV/TV decrement was due to increased spacing and decreased thickness of trabeculae. Radiation also increased (∼150%) cancellous surfaces lined with tartrate-resistant, acid phosphatase-positive osteoclasts, an index of increased bone resorption. Radiation decreased lumbar vertebral BV/TV 1 month after irradiation, showing the persistence of cancellous bone loss, although mechanical properties in compression were unaffected. In sum, a single dose of γ radiation rapidly increased osteoclast surface in cancellous tissue and compromised cancellous microarchitecture in the remodeling appendicular and axial skeleton of postpubertal mice.