Patient-derived orthotopic xenografts (PDOXs) closely recapitulate primary human glioblastoma (GBM) tumors in terms of histology and genotype. Compared to other mouse strains, NOD-scid IL2Rgammanull (NSG) mice show excellent tumor take rates, which makes them an ideal host for PDOXs. However, NSG mice harbor a mutation in the catalytic subunit of DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PKcs), which renders them relatively radiosensitive. This has been a frequently voiced concern in studies involving ionizing radiation. In this study, we assessed brain toxicity in NSG mice compared to three other different mouse strains frequently used in radiation studies at radiation doses commonly used in experimental combination therapy studies. C3H/Sed/Kam, C57Bl/6, nude and NOD-scid IL2Rgammanull mice received a single dose of 4 Gy to the right brain hemispheres using an image-guided small animal irradiator. Brains were stained using H&E, luxol fast blue, and antibodies against IBA1 and GFAP one, two, four or six months postirradiation. Additional animals of all four strains were exposed to five daily fractions of 2 Gy (5 × 2 Gy), and tissue sections were stained 72 h later against gH2AX, NeuN, GFAP and IBA1. None of the mouse strains displayed radiation-induced toxicity at any of the time points tested. Radiation doses relevant for testing combination therapies can be safely applied to the brains of NSG mice without the occurrence of radiation-induced normal tissue toxicity.

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