Therapeutic irradiation is commonly used to treat primary or metastatic central nervous system tumors. It is believed that activation of neuroinflammatory signaling pathways contributes to the development of common adverse effects, which may ultimately contribute to cognitive dysfunction. Recent studies identified the chemokine (C-C motif) receptor (CCR2), constitutively expressed by cells of the monocyte-macrophage lineage, as a mediator of cognitive impairments induced by irradiation. In the present study we utilized a unique reporter mouse (CCR2(RFP/+)CX3CR1(GFP/+)) to accurately delineate the resident (CX3CR1+) versus peripheral (CCR2+) innate immune response in the brain following cranial irradiation. Our results demonstrate that a single dose of 10Gy cranial γ-irradiation induced a significant decrease in the percentage of resident microglia, while inducing an increase in the infiltration of peripherally derived CCR2+ macrophages. Although reduced in percentage, there was a significant increase in F4/80+ activated macrophages in irradiated animals compared to sham. Moreover, we found that there were altered levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, adhesion molecules, and growth factors in the hippocampi of wild type irradiated mice as compared to sham. All of these molecules are implicated in the recruitment, adhesion, and migration of peripheral monocytes to injured tissue. Importantly, there were no measureable changes in the expression of multiple markers associated with blood-brain barrier integrity; implicating the infiltration of peripheral CCR2+ macrophages may be due to inflammatory induced chemotactic signaling. Cumulatively, these data provide evidence that therapeutic levels of cranial radiation are sufficient to alter the brain's homeostatic balance and permit the influx of peripherally-derived CCR2+ macrophages as well as the regional susceptibility of the hippocampal formation to ionizing radiation.
Morganti, J. M., Jopson, T. D., Liu, S., Gupta, N., & Rosi, S. (2014). Cranial irradiation alters the brain’s microenvironment and permits CCR2+ macrophage infiltration. PLoS ONE, 9(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0093650