Radiation-induced lymphopenia (RIL) is associated with treatment of different tumors (lung, colon, pancreas, breast, sarcomas, and glioblastoma). It is a significant clinical problem affecting the survival of cancer patients. The biologic mechanisms leading to RIL are not clearly understood. In this study, we established a mouse model of RIL representing therapeutic clinical regimen for lung cancer. Flow cytometry was used to analyze circulating levels of T and B cells and bone marrow (BM) stem cells. We found that fractionated radiation to the thorax significantly reduced circulating T and B cells as well as BM stem cells. Ex-vivo irradiation of blood and autologous reinjection to mice also significantly induced lymphopenia. Furthermore, we found that mobilization of stem cells from the BM and autologous stem cell transplant rescued RIL in mice. Overall, our results suggest that RIL has not only direct effect on circulating lymphocytes, but also has indirect effect on circulating lymphocytes as well as stem cells in the non-irradiated BM. These results open a new window for investigating the direct and indirect biologic mechanisms leading to RIL, and provide a preclinical basis to test the effect of stem cell transplantation for treatment of RIL in cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3442-3445
Number of pages4
JournalCancer research
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


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