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Injury and organ failure after irradiation of late-responding tissues is a substantial problem in radiation oncology and a major threat after accidental or belligerent exposures. The mechanisms of injury may include death of clonogens, vascular injury, activation of cytokine networks, and/or chronic oxidative stress. Knowledge of mechanisms may guide optimal use of mitigators. The hypothesis of chronic oxidative stress as a mechanism for late radiation injury has received much attention. We review herein the published evidence for chronic oxidative stress in vivo, and for use of antioxidants as mitigators of normal tissue radiation injury. We conclude that there is only indirect evidence for chronic oxidative stress after irradiation, and there are only limited published reports of mitigation by antioxidants. We did not find a differentiation of persistent markers of oxidative stress from an ongoing production of oxygen radicals. It is thus unproven that chronic oxidative stress plays a major role in causing radiation injury and organ failure in late-responding tissues. Further investigation is justified, to identify chronic oxidative stress and to identify optimal mitigators of radiation injury. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


Samuel R Cohen, Eric P Cohen. Chronic oxidative stress after irradiation: An unproven hypothesis. Medical hypotheses. 2013 Feb;80(2):172-5

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PMID: 23245910

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