Radiation induced biomarkers of individual sensitivity to radiation therapy

Academic dissertation for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Molecular
Biosciences at Stockholm University to be publicly defended on Friday 31
January 2014 at 10:00 in William-Olssonsalen, Geovetenskapens hus,                        Svante Arrhenius väg 14.

By: Sara Skiöld

Opponent: Mats Ljungman


Fifty percent of solid cancers are treated with radiation therapy (RT). The dose used in RT is adjusted to the most sensitive individuals so that not more than 5% of the patients will have severe adverse healthy tissue effects. As a consequence, the majority of the patients will receive a suboptimal dose, as they would have tolerated a higher total dose and received a better tumor control. Thus, if RT could be individualized based on radiation sensitivity (RS), more patients would be cured and the most severe adverse reactions could be avoided. At present the mechanisms behind RS are not known.

The long term aim of this thesis was to develop diagnostic tools to assess the individual RS of breast cancer patients and to better understand the mechanisms behind the RS and radiation effects after low dose exposures. The approach was based on the hypothesis that biomarkers of individual RS, in terms of acute adverse skin reactions after breast cancer RT, can be found in whole blood that has been stressed by low doses of ionizing radiation (IR).

To reach this goal two different approaches to identify biomarkers of RS have been investigated. A protocol for the analysis of differential protein expression in response to low dose in vitro irradiated whole blood was developed (paper I). This protocol was then used to investigate the proteomic profile of radiation sensitive and normo-sensitive patients, using isotope-coded protein labeled proteomics (ICPL). The results from the ICPL study (paper III) show that the two patient groups have different protein expression profiles both at the basal level and after IR. In paper II the potential biomarker 8-oxo-dG was investigated in serum after IR. The relative levels of IR induced
8-oxo-dG from radiation sensitive patients differ significantly from normo-sensitive patients. This indicates that the sensitive patients differ in their cellular response to IR and that 8-oxo-dG is a potential biomarker for RS.

Keywords: low dose ionizing radiation, radiation sensitivity, proteomics, whole blood, 8-oxodG, oxidative stress, acute adverse healthy tissue effects.