Ionising Radiation, Inflammation and Autoimmune disease

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 2018 Mar 20;5(1):9. doi: 10.1186/s40779-018-0156-7.

Radiation-induced inflammation and autoimmune diseases.


Currently, ionizing radiation (IR) plays a key role in the agricultural and medical industry, while accidental exposure resulting from leakage of radioactive sources or radiological terrorism is a serious concern. Exposure to IR has various detrimental effects on normal tissues. Although an increased risk of carcinogenesis is the best-known long-term consequence of IR, evidence has shown that other diseases, particularly diseases related to inflammation, are common disorders among irradiated people. Autoimmune disorders are among the various types of immune diseases that have been investigated among exposed people. Thyroid diseases and diabetes are two autoimmune diseases potentially induced by IR. However, the precise mechanisms of IR-induced thyroid diseases and diabetes remain to be elucidated, and several studies have shown that chronic increased levels of inflammatory cytokines after exposure play a pivotal role. Thus, cytokines, including interleukin-1(IL-1), tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α) and interferon gamma (IFN-γ), play a key role in chronic oxidative damage following exposure to IR. Additionally, these cytokines change the secretion of insulin and thyroid-stimulating hormone(TSH). It is likely that the management of inflammation and oxidative damage is one of the best strategies for the amelioration of these diseases after a radiological or nuclear disaster. In the present study, we reviewed the evidence of radiation-induced diabetes and thyroid diseases, as well as the potential roles of inflammatory responses. In addition, we proposed that the mitigation of inflammatory and oxidative damage markers after exposure to IR may reduce the incidence of these diseases among individuals exposed to radiation.

. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2016 Jan 1.
Published in final edited form as:
PMCID: PMC4378687
PMID: 25481260

Radiation & Inflammation


The immune system has the power to modulate the expression of radiation-induced normal and tumor tissue damage. On the one hand, it can contribute to cancer cure, on the other it can influence acute and late radiation side effects, which in many ways resemble acute and chronic inflammatory disease states. The way radiation-induced inflammation feeds into adaptive antigen-specific immune responses adds another dimension to the tumor-host crosstalk during radiation therapy and to possible radiation-driven autoimmune responses. Understanding how radiation impacts inflammation and immunity is therefore critical if we are to effectively manipulate these forces for benefit in radiation oncology treatments.