Cerium oxide nanoparticles (CNPs) have a unique surface regenerative property and can efficiently control reactive oxygen/nitrogen species. To determine whether treatment with CNPs can mitigate the delayed effects of lung injury after acute radiation exposure, CBA/J mice were exposed to 15 Gy whole-thorax radiation. The animals were either treated with nanoparticles, CNP-18 and CNP-ME, delivered by intraperitoneal injection twice weekly for 4 weeks starting 2 h postirradiation or received radiation treatment alone. At the study's end point of 160 days, 90% of the irradiated mice treated with high-dose (10 μM) CNP-18 survived, compared to 10% of mice in the radiation-alone (P < 0.0001) and 30% in the low-dose (100 nM) CNP-18. Both low- and high-dose CNP-ME-treated irradiated mice showed increased survival rates of 40% compared to 10% in the radiation-alone group. Multiple lung functional parameters recorded by flow-ventilated whole-body plethysmography demonstrated that high-dose CNP-18 treatment had a significant radioprotective effect on lethal dose radiation-induced lung injury. Lung histology revealed a significant decrease (P < 0.0001) in structural damage and collagen deposition in mice treated with high-dose CNP-18 compared to the irradiated-alone mice. In addition, significant reductions in inflammatory response (P < 0.01) and vascular damage (P < 0.01) were observed in the high-dose CNP-18-treated group compared to irradiated-alone mice. Together, the findings from this preclinical efficacy study clearly demonstrate that CNPs have both clinically and histologically significant mitigating and protective effects on lethal dose radiation-induced lung injury.

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