Normal tissue toxicity limits radiation therapy and could depend on the extent of damage to the vascular endothelium. Aminothiols such as WR-1065 [N-(2-mercaptoethyl)-1,3-diaminopropane] provide radioprotection for normal tissues, but little is known about how the aminothiols specifically affect the endothelium. Bovine aortic endothelial cells in culture were exposed to WR-1065 for 2 h before irradiation (${}^{137}{\rm Cs}\ \gamma \ \text{rays}$, 1 Gy/min). Alone, WR-1065 demonstrated an antiproliferative effect that was related to dose (0.5-4 mM) and was evident by lowered counts of adherent cells 48 h after exposure. WR-1065 was clearly radioprotective when assessed by colony formation and incorporation of [3 H]thymidine. However, when the number of adherent cells was evaluated, radioprotection appeared to be slight and evident only in logarithmically growing cells. WR-1065 at 2 mM suppressed single-strand DNA breaks after 3 Gy by 22% and double-strand breaks after 9 Gy by 47%. Also in the irradiated cells, WR-1065 more than doubled the rate of progression of cells from G1 to S phase. WR-1065 pretreatment elevated cellular glutathione (GSH) content more than twofold. Although pretreatment with buthionine sulfoximine inhibited the elevation of GSH, the radioprotective impact of WR-1065 on total DNA strand breaks and colony formation was unaffected. These results suggest that WR-1065 may enable tissue recovery from irradiation by promoting the replication of endothelial cells, possibly by mechanisms independent of GSH.

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