Methods to assess radiation-induced cardiotoxicity in rodent models

Anupama Melam, Lauren N. Pedersen, Amanda Klaas, Zhiqiang Xu, Carmen Bergom

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Cancer survivors who have received thoracic radiation as part of their primary treatment are at risk for developing radiation-induced cardiotoxicity (RICT) due to incidental radiation delivered to the heart. In recent decades, advancements in radiation delivery have dramatically improved the therapeutic ratio of radiation therapy (RT) – efficiently targeting malignancies while sparing the heart; yet, in many patients, incidental radiation to the heart cannot be fully avoided. Cardiac radiation exposure can cause long-term morbidity and contribute to poorer survival in cancer patients. Severe cardiac effects can occur within 2 years of treatment. Currently, there is no way to predict who is at higher or lower risk of developing cardiotoxicity from radiation, and the critical factors that alter radiation-induced cardiotoxicity have not yet been clearly identified. Thus, pre-clinical investigations are an important step towards better prevention, detection, and management of RICT in cancer survivors. The overarching aim of this chapter is to provide researchers with foundational and technical knowledge in the use of mice and rats for RICT investigations. After a brief overview of RICT pathophysiology and clinical manifestations, we discuss important considerations of RICT study design, including animal selection and radiation planning. We then provide example protocols for murine tissue harvesting and processing that can support use in downstream applications of the reader's choosing.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMethods in Cell Biology
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Publication series

NameMethods in Cell Biology
ISSN (Print)0091-679X


  • Cardio-oncology
  • Cardiotoxicity
  • Mice
  • Radiation
  • Radiation-induced heart dysfunction
  • Rats
  • Small animal irradiator


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