In previous studies, it has been shown that pretreatment with kojic acid (KA) not only increased the 30 day survival rate of mice after exposed to a lethal dose of gamma radiation but also had significant radioprotective effects on the hematopoietic system, the immune system and DNA of mice exposed to a 4 Gy sublethal dose of radiation. Furthermore, pretreatment with KA has also been shown to protect Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells against ionizing radiation-induced damage. In this investigation, beagle dogs were used to evaluate whether KA could also be radioprotective in a large animal model. Dogs in the group pretreated with kojic acid after whole-body exposure to a lethal dose of 3 Gy gamma radiation had a 51 day survival rate of 66.7% versus the dogs in the 3 Gy irradiation only group, which all died within 16 days of postirradiation. General vital signs (body weight or temperature) of animals in the kojic acid pretreated group reduced and increased maximally at day 14 postirradiation and then reverted to normal levels gradually. The hematopoiesis studies indicated that the white blood cells/red blood cells, hemoglobin content and hematocrit of dogs pretreated with kojic acid decreased sharply at day 23/day 21 postirradiation, and then gradually elevated. In addition, the DNA content of dogs pretreated with KA were significantly increased compared with that of dogs in the irradiation group at day 4 postirradiation and the number of micronuclei in the group pretreated with kojic acid declined sharply compared with that of the irradiation only group. KA appears to possess marked protective effects from radiation-induced damage and therefore, may be a promising novel radioprotective agent.

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