Tofilon, P.J. and Fike, J.R. The Radioresponse of the Central Nervous System: A Dynamic Process.
Radiation continues to be a major treatment modality for tumors located within and close to the central nervous system (CNS). Consequently, alleviating or protecting against radiation-induced CNS injury would be of benefit in cancer treatment. However, the rational development of such interventional strategies will depend on a more complete understanding of the mechanisms responsible for the development of this form of normal tissue injury. Whereas the vasculature and the oligodendrocyte lineage have traditionally been considered the primary radiation targets in the CNS, in this review we suggest that other phenotypes as well as critical cellular interactions may also be involved in determining the radiore[chsponse of the CNS. Furthermore, based on the assumption that the CNS has a limited repertoire of responses to injury, the reaction of the CNS to other types of insults is used as a framework for modeling the pathogenesis of radiation-induced damage. Evidence is then provided suggesting that, in addition to acute cell death, radiation induces an intrinsic recovery/repair response in the form of specific cytokines and may initiate secondary reactive processes that result in the generation of a persistent oxidative stress.