Imaging radiation-induced normal tissue injury

Mike E. Robbins, Judy K. Brunso-Bechtold, Ann M. Peiffer, Christina I. Tsien, Janet E. Bailey, Lawrence B. Marks

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Technological developments in radiation therapy and other cancer therapies have led to a progressive increase in five-year survival rates over the last few decades. Although acute effects have been largely minimized by both technical advances and medical interventions, late effects remain a concern. Indeed, the need to identify those individuals who will develop radiation-induced late effects, and to develop interventions to prevent or ameliorate these late effects is a critical area of radiobiology research. In the last two decades, preclinical studies have clearly established that late radiation injury can be prevented/ameliorated by pharmacological therapies aimed at modulating the cascade of events leading to the clinical expression of radiation-induced late effects. These insights have been accompanied by significant technological advances in imaging that are moving radiation oncology and normal tissue radiobiology from disciplines driven by anatomy and macrostructure to ones in which important quantitative functional, microstructural, and metabolic data can be noninvasively and serially determined. In the current article, we review use of positron emission tomography (PET), single photon emission tomography (SPECT), magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and MR spectroscopy to generate pathophysiological and functional data in the central nervous system, lung, and heart that offer the promise of, (1) identifying individuals who are at risk of developing radiation-induced late effects, and (2) monitoring the efficacy of interventions to prevent/ameliorate them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-466
Number of pages18
JournalRadiation research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiation
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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