Mechanisms of radiation-induced brain toxicity and implications for future clinical trials.

Jae Ho Kim, Stephen L. Brown, Kenneth A. Jenrow, Samuel Ryu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Radiation therapy is widely used in the treatment of primary malignant brain tumors and metastatic tumors of the brain with either curative or palliative intent. The limitation of cancer radiation therapy does not derive from the inability to ablate tumor, but rather to do so without excessively damaging the patient. Among the varieties of radiation-induced brain toxicities, it is the late delayed effects that lead to severe and irreversible neurological consequences. Following radiation exposure, late delayed effects within the CNS have been attributable to both parenchymal and vascular damage involving oligodendrocytes, neural progenitors, and endothelial cells. These reflect a dynamic process involving radiation-induced death of target cells and subsequent secondary reactive neuroinflammatory processes that are believed to lead to selective cell loss, tissue damage, and functional deficits. The progressive, late delayed damage to the brain after high-dose radiation is thought to be caused by radiation-induced long-lived free radicals, reactive oxygen species, and pro-inflammatory cytokines. Experimental studies suggest that radiation-induced brain injury can be successfully mitigated and treated with several well established drugs in wide clinical use which exert their effects by blocking pro-inflammatory cytokines and reactive oxygen species. This review highlights preclinical and early clinical data that are translatable for future clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-286
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuro-Oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2008


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