Within this millennium there has been resurgence in funding and research dealing with animal models of radiation-induced lung injury to identify and establish predictive biomarkers and effective mitigating agents that are applicable to humans. Most have been performed on mice but there needs to be assurance that the emphasis on such models is not misplaced. We therefore considered it timely to perform a comprehensive appraisal of the literature dealing with radiation lung injury of mice and to critically evaluate the validity and clinical relevance of the research. A total of 357 research papers covering the period of 1970-2015 were extensively reviewed. Whole thorax irradiation (WTI) has become the most common treatment for studying lung injury in mice and distinct trends were seen with regard to the murine strain, radiation dose, intended pathology investigated, length of study, and assays. Recently, the C57BL/6 strain has been increasingly used in the majority of these studies with the notion that they are susceptible to pulmonary fibrosis. Nonetheless, many of these investigations depend on animal survival as the primary end point and neglect the importance of radiation pneumonitis and the anomaly of lethal pleural effusions. A relatively large variation in survival times of C5BL/6 mice is also seen among different institutions pointing to the need for standardization of radiation treatments and environmental conditions. An analysis of mitigating drug treatments is complicated by the fact that the majority of studies are limited to the C57BL/6 strain with a premature termination of the experiments and do not establish whether the treatment actually prevents or simply delays the progression of radiation injury. This survey of the literature has pointed to several improvements that need to be considered in establishing a reliable preclinical murine model of radiation lung injury. The lethality end point should also be used cautiously and with greater emphasis on other assays such as non-invasive lung functional and imaging monitoring in order to quantify specific pulmonary injury that can be better extrapolated to radiation toxicity encountered in our own species.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology