Survival from partial-body irradiation (PBI) may be limited by the development of the late lung injury response of pneumonitis. Herein we investigated the hypothesis that acute hematopoietic depletion alters the onset and severity of lung disease in a mouse model. To establish depletion, C3H/HeJ mice received 8 Gy PBI with shielding of only the tibiae, ankles and feet. One week after irradiation, blood lymphocyte and neutrophil counts were each significantly reduced (P < 0.04) in these mice compared to levels in untreated controls or in mice receiving 16 Gy to the whole thorax only. All 8 Gy PBI mice survived to the experimental end point of 16 weeks postirradiation. To determine whether the hematopoietic depletion affects lung disease, groups of mice received 8 Gy PBI plus 8 Gy whole-thorax irradiation (total lung dose of 16 Gy) or 16 Gy whole-thorax irradiation only. The weight loss, survival to onset of respiratory distress (P = 0.17) and pneumonitis score (P = 0.96) of mice that received 8 Gy PBI plus 8 Gy whole-thorax irradiation were not significantly different from those of mice receiving 16 Gy whole-thorax irradiation only. Mice in respiratory distress from PBI plus whole-thorax irradiation had significantly reduced (P = 0.02) blood monocyte counts compared to levels in distressed, whole-thorax irradiated mice, and symptomatic pneumonitis was associated with increased blood neutrophil counts (P = 0.04) relative to measures from irradiated, non-distressed mice. In conclusion, survivable acute hematopoietic depletion by partial-body irradiation did not alter the onset or severity of lethal pneumonitis in the C3H/HeJ mouse model.
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Vol. 196 • No. 3