Bernadette Hritzo, Betre Legesse, Jerrold M. Ward, Amandeep Kaur, Saeed Y. Aghdam, Doreswamy Kenchegowda, Gregory P. Holmes-Hampton, Maria Moroni
Radiation Research 196 (2), 156-174, (21 May 2021) https://doi.org/10.1667/RADE-20-00073.1
Coagulopathies are well documented after acute radiation exposure at hematopoietic doses, and radiation-induced bleeding is notably one of the two main causes of mortality in the hematopoietic acute radiation syndrome. Despite this, understanding of the mechanisms by which radiation alters hemostasis and induces bleeding is still lacking. Here, male Göttingen minipigs received hematopoietic doses of 60Co gamma irradiation (total body) and coagulopathies were characterized by assessing bleeding, blood cytopenia, fibrin deposition, changes in hemostatic properties, coagulant/anticoagulant enzyme levels, and markers of inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, and barrier integrity to understand if a relationship exists between bleeding, hemostatic defects, bone marrow aplasia, inflammation, endothelial dysfunction and loss of barrier integrity. Acute radiation exposure induced coagulopathies in the Göttingen minipig model of hematopoietic acute radiation syndrome; instances of bleeding were not dependent upon thrombocytopenia. Neutropenia, alterations in hemostatic parameters and damage to the glycocalyx occurred in all animals irrespective of occurrence of bleeding. Radiation-induced bleeding was concurrent with simultaneous thrombocytopenia, anemia, neutropenia, inflammation, increased heart rate, decreased nitric oxide bioavailability and endothelial dysfunction; bleeding was not observed with the sole occurrence of a single aforementioned parameter in the absence of the others. Alteration of barrier function or clotting proteins was not observed in all cases of bleeding. Additionally, fibrin deposition was observed in the heart and lungs of decedent animals but no evidence of DIC was noted, suggesting a unique pathophysiology of radiation-induced coagulopathies. These findings suggest radiation-induced coagulopathies are the result of simultaneous damage to several key organs and biological functions, including the immune system, the inflammatory response, the bone marrow and the cardiovasculature.