Dietary flaxseed modulates the miRNA profile in irradiated and non-irradiated murine lungs: A novel mechanism of tissue radioprotection by flaxseed

Melpo Christofidou-Solomidou, Ralph Pietrofesa, Evguenia Arguiri, Melissa A. McAlexander, Kenneth W. Witwer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Introduction: Dietary flaxseed (FS) displays antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in preclinical models of lung disease including radiation-induced pneumonopathy, however the mechanisms of lung radioprotection are incompletely understood. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short oligonucleotides that act as important posttranscriptional regulators of diverse networks including inflammatory response networks. Responses of miRNA profiles to diet and radiation exposure have been reported, but the potential contribution of miRNAs to diet-related radioprotection has never been tested. Methods: In this exploratory pilot study, mice were fed 10% FS or a 0% FS isocaloric control diet and exposed to a single-fraction 13.5 Gy thoracic X-ray radiation treatment (XRT). Lung RNA was extracted 48 h post-XRT and small RNAs profiled by OpenArray. Results: FS significantly modulated expression of multiple miRNAs, including 7 with P < 0.001. miR-150 was downregulated approximately 2.9-fold in the FS groups and is disproportionately integrated into immune response-related networks. Although few miRNAs were significantly changed by radiation, interaction between diet and radiation was observed. For example, miR-29c was greatly downregulated in the FS/Control group (10-to 50-fold) but slightly upregulated in the FS/radiation group. Compared with FS/control, the FS/radiation group experienced a 50% decrease of the p53-responsive miR-34a, which regulates senescence-and apoptosis-related factors. Conclusions: FS induced significant changes in lung miRNA profile suggesting that modulation of small RNA by dietary supplements may represent a novel strategy to prevent adverse side-effects of thoracic radiotherapy. This pilot study provides insight into a potential mechanism of flaxseed's radioprotection and provides a useful model-system to further explore and optimize such small RNA-based therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)930-937
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Biology and Therapy
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Antioxidant
  • Flaxseed
  • Inflammation
  • Lung fibrosis
  • Lung injury
  • MiR-150
  • MiR-29c
  • MiR-34a
  • MiRNA
  • Mouse model
  • ROS
  • Radiation pneumonopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research


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