Risk of complication after radiation therapy associated with intestinal microbiota


Tissue damage represents the most common complication after radiation therapy. In the journal Gut, an Israeli team demonstrated the involvement of the intestinal microbiota. The researchers proved that X-rays alter the microbiota leading to the production of inflammation factors that participate in complications related to radiation therapy. After irradiating mice in the pelvic area, they observed a progressive change in the microbiota in the following weeks, until a particular profile was observed in animals with tissue damage. This profile was associated with a local increase in cytokine IL-1β and IL-6 and TNFα production. Yet, previous studies had shown that the occurrence of post-radiation therapy damage was strongly correlated with the presence of cytokine IL-1β. Researchers then transplanted the microbiota of mice exposed to radiation therapy into axenic mice and observed that they were predisposed to the occurrence of damage after radiation therapy compared to control animals. These studies suggest the possibility of eventually preventing these complications by manipulating the intestinal microbiota.


Gerassy-Vainberg S. et al. Radiation induces proinflammatory dysbiosis: transmission of inflammatory susceptibility by host cytokine induction. Gut. 2017 Apr 24. pii: gutjnl-2017-313789