Oral mucositis is a common adverse reaction of radiotherapy used for head and neck cancers. Our research investigates the therapeutic effect and potential mechanisms of ecdysterone, a compound which was used as a functional food additive, isolated from the root of medicine-food herbs Achyranthes bidentata (Blume), on radiation-induced oral mucositis in rats during the early development stages of mucositis. In this study, male Sprague-Dawley rats received a single 20 Gy X-ray dose to the head and neck after placement of each animal in a specially-constructed 5-mm lead jig. At 24 h postirradiation, ecdysterone was administrated orally. Therapeutic effects of ecdysterone were investigated by observing weight changes and development of mucositis on days 5 and 10 after treatment. Determination of superoxide dismutase and malondialdehyde concentration was performed 5 days after treatment. H&E and leukocyte common antigen staining and TUNEL assays were performed 10 days after treatment. After 10 days of treatment, total protein from the tongue samples was extracted and Western blot analysis was performed to evaluate changes in protein expression. The results of this study showed that ecdysterone prevented the development of radiation-induced oral mucositis in rats during the early stages. Ecdysterone significantly attenuated radiation-induced decrease in cellular superoxide dismutase concentration and increase in malondialdehyde concentration. Ecdysterone was also linked to up-regulation of anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2 and down-regulation of pro-apoptotic proteins Bax and cleaved caspase-3. In conclusion, these findings suggest that orally administrated ecdysterone alleviates the development of radiation-induced oral mucositis in rats with remarkable anti-oxidant and anti-apoptotic activities at early stages after irradiation.
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Vol. 196 • No. 4