Differences in Expression of Mitochondrial Complexes Due to Genetic Variants May Alter Sensitivity to Radiation-Induced Cardiac Dysfunction

Rachel A. Schlaak, Anne Frei, Gopika SenthilKumar, Shirng Wern Tsaih, Clive Wells, Jyotsna Mishra, Michael J. Flister, Amadou K.S. Camara, Carmen Bergom

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Radiation therapy is received by over half of all cancer patients. However, radiation doses may be constricted due to normal tissue side effects. In thoracic cancers, including breast and lung cancers, cardiac radiation is a major concern in treatment planning. There are currently no biomarkers of radiation-induced cardiotoxicity. Complex genetic modifiers can contribute to the risk of radiation-induced cardiotoxicities, yet these modifiers are largely unknown and poorly understood. We have previously reported the SS (Dahl salt-sensitive/Mcwi) rat strain is a highly sensitized model of radiation-induced cardiotoxicity compared to the more resistant Brown Norway (BN) rat strain. When rat chromosome 3 from the resistant BN rat strain is substituted into the SS background (SS.BN3 consomic), it significantly attenuates radiation-induced cardiotoxicity, demonstrating inherited genetic variants on rat chromosome 3 modify radiation sensitivity. Genes involved with mitochondrial function were differentially expressed in the hearts of SS and SS.BN3 rats 1 week after radiation. Here we further assessed differences in mitochondria-related genes between the sensitive SS and resistant SS.BN3 rats. We found mitochondrial-related gene expression differed in untreated hearts, while no differences in mitochondrial morphology were seen 1 week after localized heart radiation. At 12 weeks after localized cardiac radiation, differences in mitochondrial complex protein expression in the left ventricles were seen between the SS and SS.BN3 rats. These studies suggest that differences in mitochondrial gene expression caused by inherited genetic variants may contribute to differences in sensitivity to cardiac radiation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number23
JournalFrontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine
StatePublished - Mar 5 2020


  • cardiotoxicity
  • consomic rats
  • echocardiogram
  • mitochondria
  • oxidative phosphorylation
  • radiation
  • radiation-induced heart damage


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