Stem cell responses in tissues after exposure to radiation are of significance for maintaining tissue functions. From the point of view of stem cell characteristics, this article seeks to illustrate some contributions of microbeam research to spatially fractionated radiotherapy (SFRT), such as grid radiotherapy and microbeam radiotherapy. Although the tissue-sparing response after SFRT was first reported more than a century ago, current radiation dose–volume metrics are still unable to accurately predict such tissue-level changes in response to spatially fractionated radiation fields. However, microbeam approaches could contribute to uncovering the mechanisms of tissue response, significantly improving the outcomes of SFRT and reducing its adverse effects. Studies with microbeams have shown that the testicular tissue-sparing effect for maintaining spermatogenesis after exposure to spatially fractionated radiation depends on biological parameters, such as the radiation dose distribution at the microscale level for tissue-specific stem cells and the microenvironment, or niche. This indicates that stem cell survival, migration, and repopulation are involved in the tissue-level changes during or after SFRT. The illustration of microbeam applications in this article focuses on the stem cell migration as a possible mechanism of the tissue-sparing effect for preserving functionality.
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Vol. 196 • No. 6