Kenji Yumoto, Ruth K. Globus, Rose Mojarrab, Joy Arakaki, Angela Wang, Nancy D. Searby, Eduardo A. C. Almeida, Charles L. Limoli
Radiation Research 173 (4), 494-504, (10 February 2010) https://doi.org/10.1667/RR1754.1
Space travel and prolonged bed rest cause bone loss due to musculoskeletal disuse. In space, radiation fields may also have detrimental consequences because charged particles traversing the tissues of the body can elicit a wide range of cytotoxic and genotoxic lesions. The effects of heavy-ion radiation exposure in combination with musculoskeletal disuse on bone cells and tissue are not known. To explore this, normally loaded 16-week-old male C57BL/6 mice were exposed to 56Fe ions (1 GeV/nucleon) at doses of 0 cGy (sham), 10 cGy, 50 cGy or 2 Gy 3 days before tissue harvest. Additional mice were hindlimb unloaded by tail traction continuously for 1 week to simulate weightlessness and exposed to 56Fe-ion radiation (0 cGy, 50 cGy, 2 Gy) 3 days before tissue harvest. Despite the short duration of this study, low-dose (10, 50 cGy) irradiation of normally loaded mice reduced trabecular volume fraction (BV/TV) in the proximal tibiae by 18% relative to sham-irradiated controls. Hindlimb unloading together with 50 cGy radiation caused a 126% increase in the number of TRAP osteoclasts on cancellous bone surfaces relative to normally loaded, sham-irradiated controls. Together, radiation and hindlimb unloading had a greater effect on suppressing osteoblastogenesis ex vivo than either treatment alone. In sum, low-dose exposure to heavy ions (50 cGy) caused rapid cancellous bone loss in normally loaded mice and increased osteoclast numbers in hindlimb unloaded mice. In vitro irradiation also was more detrimental to osteoblastogenesis in bone marrow cells that were recovered from hindlimb unloaded mice compared to cells from normally loaded mice. Furthermore, irradiation in vitro stimulated osteoclast formation in a macrophage cell line (RAW264.7) in the presence of RANKL (25 ng/ml), showing that heavy-ion radiation can stimulate osteoclast differentiation even in the absence of osteoblasts. Thus heavy-ion radiation can acutely increase osteoclast numbers in cancellous tissue and, under conditions of musculoskeletal disuse, can enhance the sensitivity of bone cells, in particular osteoprogenitors, to the effects of radiation.