Brain radiation injury leads to a dose- and time-dependent recruitment of peripheral myeloid cells that depends on CCR2 signaling

Michael J. Moravan, John A. Olschowka, Jacqueline P. Williams, M. Kerry O'Banion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: Cranial radiotherapy is used to treat tumors of the central nervous system (CNS), as well as non-neoplastic conditions such as arterio-venous malformations; however, its use is limited by the tolerance of adjacent normal CNS tissue, which can lead to devastating long-term sequelae for patients. Despite decades of research, the underlying mechanisms by which radiation induces CNS tissue injury remain unclear. Neuroinflammation and immune cell infiltration are a recognized component of the CNS radiation response; however, the extent and mechanisms by which bone marrow-derived (BMD) immune cells participate in late radiation injury is unknown. Thus, we set out to better characterize the response and tested the hypothesis that C-C chemokine receptor type 2 (CCR2) signaling was required for myeloid cell recruitment following brain irradiation. Methods: We used young adult C57BL/6 male bone marrow chimeric mice created with donor mice that constitutively express enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP). The head was shielded to avoid brain radiation exposure during chimera construction. Radiation dose and time response studies were conducted in wild-type chimeras, and additional experiments were performed with chimeras created using donor marrow from CCR2 deficient, eGFP-expressing mice. Infiltrating eGFP+ cells were identified and quantified using immunofluorescent microscopy. Results: Brain irradiation resulted in a dose- and time-dependent infiltration of BMD immune cells (predominately myeloid) that began at 1month and persisted until 6months following ≥15Gy brain irradiation. Infiltration was limited to areas that were directly exposed to radiation. CCR2 signaling loss resulted in decreased numbers of infiltrating cells at 6months that appeared to be restricted to cells also expressing major histocompatibility complex class II molecules. Conclusions: The potential roles played by infiltrating immune cells are of current importance due to increasing interest in immunotherapeutic approaches for cancer treatment and a growing clinical interest in survivorship and quality of life issues. Our findings demonstrate that injury from brain radiation facilitates a dose- and time-dependent recruitment of BMD cells that persists for at least 6months and, in the case of myeloid cells, is dependent on CCR2 signaling.

Original languageEnglish
Article number30
JournalJournal of Neuroinflammation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 3 2016


  • CCR2
  • Cell infiltration
  • Chimeric mice
  • Ionizing radiation
  • Late CNS radiation injury
  • Myeloid cells


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