Pulmonary changes induced by combined mouse β-interferon (rMuIFN-β) and irradiation in normal mice - toxic versus protective effects

Sandra McDonald, Philip Rubin, Alex Y.C. Chang, David P. Penney, Jacob N. Finkelstein, Sidney Grossberg, Richard Feins, Philip K. Gregory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


This study in normal mice was undertaken to investigate possible enhancement of pulmonary toxicity by interferon - beta (IFN-β) combined with single doses of irradiation. A pharmacokinetic study preceded the toxicity study to determine the optimal route and timing of IFN administration. Graded single doses of radiation were combined with graded doses of IFN. Pulmonary toxicity was determined using endpoints of alveolar surfactant and procollagen in lung lavage fluid at 7 days, breathing frequency, lethality and histology. Increased lethality was seen when IFN was combined with irradiation at 12.5 Gy vs. irradiation alone. This occurred between 20 and 30 weeks post treatment with no increased breathing frequency or surfactant release, suggesting independent mechanisms of injury. Increased breathing frequency after 40 weeks, usually associated with fibrosis, was less pronounced for IFN treated vs. irradiation only controls. Ultrastructural studies at 72 weeks suggest reduced fibrosis in lungs of IFN treated vs. irradiation only controls. Supporting this was the finding that Procollagen III, a biosynthetic precursor of collagen, was increased in the lavage fluid at 7 days for all radiation doses but decreased with the addition of IFN at 12.5 and 15 Gy. Interferons can act either as sensitizers or radioprotectors, depending on the biological system and type of interferon. Our study suggests that while IFN-β may increase the acute effects of radiation in the mouse lung, some protection from radiation-induced fibrosis, possibly related to alteration of immune mechanisms, may exist.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)212-218
Number of pages7
JournalRadiotherapy and Oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Fibrosis
  • Interferon-β
  • Irradiation
  • Pneumonitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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