Radiotherapy to treat brain tumors can potentially harm the central nervous system (CNS). The radiation stimulates a series of immune responses in both the CNS as well as peripheral immune system. To date, studies have mostly focused on the changes occurring in the immune response within the CNS. In this study, we investigated the effect of γ-ray-induced CNS injury on the peripheral immune response using a cell co-culture model and a whole-brain irradiation (WBI) rat model. Nerve cells (SH-SY5Y and U87 MG cells) were γ-ray irradiated, then culture media of the irradiated cells (conditioned media) was used to culture immune cells (THP-1 cells or Jurkat cells). Analyses were performed based on the response of immune cells in conditioned media. Sprague-Dawley rats received WBI at different doses, and were fed for one week to one month postirradiation. Spleen and peripheral blood were then isolated and analyzed. We observed that the number of monocytes in peripheral blood, and the level of NK cells and NKT cells in spleen increased after CNS injury. However, the level of T cells in spleen did not change and the level of B cells in the spleen decreased after γ-ray-induced CNS injury. These findings indicate that CNS injury caused by ionizing radiation induces a series of changes in the peripheral immune system.

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