Residents essay award: low-dose-rate total lymphoid irradiation: A new method of rapid immunosuppression

Julia E. Blum, Shari M. De Silva, Daniel B. Drachman, Stanley E. Order

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Total Lymphoid Irradiation (TLI) has been successful in inducing immunosuppression in experimental and clinical applications. However, both the experimental and clinical utility of TLI are hampered by the prolonged treatment courses required (23 days in rats and 30-60 days in humans). Low-dose-rate TLI has the potential of reducing overall treatment time while achieving comparable immunosuppression. This study examines the immmmosuppressive activity and treatment toxicity of conventional-dose-rate (23 days) vs low-dose-rate (2-7 days) TLI. Seven groups of Lewis rats were given TLI with 60Co. One group was treated at conventional-dose-rates (80-110 cGy/ min) and received 3400 cGy in 17 fractions over 23 days. Six groups were treated at low-dose-rate (7 cGy/min) and received total doses of 800, 2400, 3000, and 3400 cGy over 2-7 days. Rats treated at conventional-dose-rates over 23 days and at low-dose-rate over 2-7 days tolerated radiation with minimal toxicity. The level of immunosuppression was tested using allogeneic (Brown-Norway) skin graft survival. Control animals retained allogeneic skin grafts for a mean of 14 days (range 8-21 days). Conventional-dose-rate treated animals (3400 cGy in 23 days) kept their grafts 60 days (range 50-66 days) (p < .001). Low-dose-rate treated rats (800 to 3400 cGy total dose over 2-7 days) also had prolongation of allogeneic graft survival times following TLI with a dose-response curve established. The graft survival time for the 3400 cGy low-dose-rate group (66 days, range 52-78 days) was not significantly different from the 3400 cGy conventional-dose-rate group (p > 0.10). When the total dose given was equivalent, low-dose-rate TLI demonstrated an advantage of reduced overall treatment time compared to conventional-dose-rate TLI (7 days vs. 23 days) with no increase in toxicity. This was accomplished without compromise of the immunosuppressant activity of TLI as demonstrated by comparable allogeneic skin graft survival times between the two 3400 cGy treatment groups. This clinical advantage would prove to be beneficial where immediate suppression of the immune system is desirable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-552
Number of pages6
JournalInternational journal of radiation oncology, biology, physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1988


  • Immunosuppression
  • Low-dose-rate
  • Total lymphoid irradiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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