Radiation-Induced Astrogliosis and Blood-Brain Barrier Damage Can Be Abrogated Using Anti-TNF Treatment

Christy M. Wilson, M. Waleed Gaber, Omaima M. Sabek, Janice A. Zawaski, Thomas E. Merchant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Purpose: In this article, we investigate the role of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF) in the initiation of acute damage to the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and brain tissue following radiotherapy (RT) for CNS tumors. Methods and Materials: Intravital microscopy and a closed cranial window technique were used to measure quantitatively BBB permeability to FITC-dextran 4.4-kDa molecules, leukocyte adhesion (Rhodamine-6G) and vessel diameters before and after 20-Gy cranial radiation with and without treatment with anti-TNF. Immunohistochemistry was used to quantify astrogliosis post-RT and immunofluorescence was used to visualize protein expression of TNF and ICAM-1 post-RT. Recombinant TNF (rTNF) was used to elucidate the role of TNF in leukocyte adhesion and vessel diameter. Results: Mice treated with anti-TNF showed significantly lower permeability and leukocyte adhesion at 24 and 48 h post-RT vs. RT-only animals. We observed a significant decrease in arteriole diameters at 48 h post-RT that was inhibited in TNF-treated animals. We also saw a significant increase in activated astrocytes following RT that was significantly lower in the anti-TNF-treated group. In addition, immunofluorescence showed protein expression of TNF and ICAM-1 in the cerebral cortex that was inhibited with anti-TNF treatment. Finally, administration of rTNF induced a decrease in arteriole diameter and a significant increase in leukocyte adhesion in venules and arterioles. Conclusions: TNF plays a significant role in acute changes in BBB permeability, leukocyte adhesion, arteriole diameter, and astrocyte activation following cranial radiation. Treatment with anti-TNF protects the brain's microvascular network from the acute damage following RT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)934-941
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2009


  • Astrogliosis
  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Radiation toxicity
  • Tumor necrosis factor
  • Vascular response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiation
  • Cancer Research


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