Dietary antioxidants have radioprotective effects after ionizing radiation exposure that limit hematopoietic cell depletion. We sought to determine the mechanism of proton-induced hematopoietic cell death in animals receiving a moderate dose of whole-body proton radiation. In addition, animals were maintained on diets supplemented with or without dietary antioxidants. In the presence of the dietary antioxidants, total bone marrow mRNA and protein expression of apoptosis-related genes were decreased compared to the expression profiles in the irradiated mice not receiving the antioxidant formulation. These data confirm high-energy proton-induced gene expression of classical apoptosis markers including BAX, caspase-3 and PARP-1. Antioxidant supplementation resulted in decreased expression of these genes in addition to increased protein expression of the anti-apoptosis markers Bcl2 and Bcl-xL. In conclusion, oral supplementation with antioxidants appears to be an effective approach for radioprotection against hematopoietic cell death.

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