In this work, individual radiosensitivity was evaluated using DNA damage response and chromosomal aberrations (CAs) in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) for the prediction of acute toxicities of chemoradiotherapy (CRT) in esophageal cancer patients. Eighteen patients with esophageal cancer were enrolled in this prospective study. Prescribed doses were 60 Gy in 11 patients and 50 Gy in seven patients. Patients received 2 Gy radiotherapy five days a week. PBLs were obtained during treatment just before and 15 min after 2 Gy radiation therapy on the days when the cumulative dose reached 2, 20, 40 Gy and 50 or 60 Gy. PBLs were also obtained four weeks and six months after radiotherapy in all and 13 patients, respectively. Dicentric and ring chromosomes in PBLs were counted to evaluate the number of CAs. Gamma-H2AX foci per cell were scored to assess DNA double-strand breaks. We analyzed the association between these factors and adverse events. The number of γ-H2AX foci before radiotherapy showed no significant increase during CRT, while their increment was significantly reduced with the accumulation of radiation dose. The mean number of CAs increased during CRT up to 1.04 per metaphase, and gradually decreased to approximately 60% six months after CRT. Five patients showed grade 3 toxicities during or after CRT (overreactors: OR), while 13 had grade 2 or less toxicities (non-overreactors: NOR). The number of CAs was significantly higher in the OR group than in the NOR group at a cumulative dose of 20 Gy (mean value: 0.63 vs. 0.34, P = 0.02), 40 Gy (mean value: 0.90 vs. 0.52, P = 0.04), and the final day of radiotherapy (mean value: 1.49 vs. 0.84, P = 0.005). These findings suggest that number of CAs could be an index for predicting acute toxicities of CRT for esophageal cancer.

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