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Interactions between endothelial cells and T cells modulate responses to mixed neutron/gamma radiation.

  • Cary, Lynnette H
  • Noutai, Daniel
  • Salber, Rudolph E
  • Williams, Margaret S
  • Ngudiankama, Barbara F
  • Whitnall, Mark H
Published Article
Radiation Research
BioOne (Radiation Research Society)
Publication Date
Jun 01, 2014
DOI: 10.1667/RR13550.1
PMID: 24828109


Detonation of an improvised nuclear device near a population center would cause significant casualties from the acute radiation syndrome (ARS) due to exposure to mixed neutron/gamma fields (MF). The pathophysiology of ARS involves inflammation, microvascular damage and alterations in immune function. Interactions between endothelial cells (EC) and hematopoietic cells are important not only for regulating immune cell traffic and function, but also for providing the microenvironment that controls survival, differentiation and migration of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells in blood-forming tissues. Endothelial cells/leukocyte interactions also influence tumor progression and the results of anticancer therapies. In this study, we hypothesized that irradiation of endothelial cells would modulate their effects on hematopoietic cells and vice versa. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) and immortalized T lymphocytes (Jurkat cells) were cultured individually and in co-culture after exposure to mixed fields. Effects of nonirradiated cells were compared to effects of irradiated cells and alterations in signaling pathways were determined. Mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) p38 and p44/42 (ERK1/2) in HUVEC exhibited higher levels of phosphorylated protein after exposure to mixed field radiation. IL-6, IL-8, G-CSF, platelet derived growth factor (PDGF) and angiopoietin 2 (ANG2) protein expression were upregulated in HUVEC by exposure to mixed field radiation. PCR arrays using HUVEC mRNA revealed alterations in gene expression after exposure to mixed fields and/or co-culture with Jurkat cells. The presence of HUVEC also influenced the function of Jurkat cells. Nonirradiated Jurkat cells showed an increase in proliferation when co-cultured with nonirradiated HUVEC, and a decrease in proliferation when co-cultured with irradiated HUVEC. Additionally, nonirradiated Jurkat cells incubated in media from irradiated HUVEC exhibited upregulation of activated caspase 3. Irradiation of Jurkat cells caused a G2/M arrest and increased adherence to HUVEC. When co-cultured with HUVEC, irradiated Jurkat cells exhibited G0/G1 arrest and increased apoptosis. The data indicate that gene expression and cell function of endothelial cells and hematopoietic cells are influenced by radiation and by interactions between the two cell types. These phenomena may affect the success of therapies for ARS and cancer.


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