Recent studies suggest ultra-high dose rate radiation treatment (UHDR-RT) reduces normal tissue damage compared to conventional radiation treatment (CONV-RT) at the same dose. In this study, we compared first, the kinetics and degree of skin damage in wild-type C57BL/6 mice, and second, tumor treatment efficacy in GL261 and B16F10 dermal tumor models, at the same UHDR-RT and CONV-RT doses. Flank skin of wild-type mice received UHDR-RT or CONV-RT at 25 Gy and 30 Gy. Normal skin damage was tracked by clinical observation to determine the time to moist desquamation, an endpoint which was verified by histopathology. Tumors were inoculated on the right flank of the mice, then received UHDR-RT or CONV-RT at 1 × 11 Gy, 1 × 15, 1 × 25, 3 × 6 and 3 × 8 Gy, and time to tumor tripling volume was determined. Tumors also received 1 × 11, 1 × 15, 3 × 6 and 3 × 8 Gy doses for assessment of CD8+/CD4+ tumor infiltrate and genetic expression 96 h postirradiation. All irradiations of the mouse tumor or flank skin were performed with megavoltage electron beams (10 MeV, 270 Gy/s for UHDR-RT and 9 MeV, 0.12 Gy/s for CONV-RT) delivered via a clinical linear accelerator. Tumor control was statistically equal for similar doses of UHDR-RT and CONV-RT in B16F10 and GL261 murine tumors. There were variable qualitative differences in genetic expression of immune and cell damage-associated pathways between UHDR and CONV irradiated B16F10 tumors. Compared to CONV-RT, UHDR-RT resulted in an increased latent period to skin desquamation after a single 25 Gy dose (7 days longer). Time to moist skin desquamation did not significantly differ between UHDR-RT and CONV-RT after a 30 Gy dose. The histomorphological characteristics of skin damage were similar for UHDR-RT and CONV-RT. These studies demonstrated similar tumor control responses for equivalent single and fractionated radiation doses, with variable difference in expression of tumor progression and immune related gene pathways. There was a modest UHDR-RT skin sparing effect after a 1 × 25 Gy dose but not after a 1 × 30 Gy dose.

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