Proton radiation-induced cancer progression

Krishna Luitel, Ronald Bozeman, Aadil Kaisani, Sang Bum Kim, Summer Barron, James A. Richardson, Jerry W. Shay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


There are considerable health risks related to ionizing and proton radiation exposure. While there is a long history of health risks associated with ionizing (photon) radiation exposure, there is a limited understanding of the long-term health risks associated with proton radiation exposure. Since proton radiation is becoming more common in cancer therapy, the long-term biological effects of proton radiation remain less well characterized in terms of radiotherapy and well as for astronauts during deep space explorations. In this study, we compared the long-term side effects of proton radiation to equivalent doses of X-rays in the initiation and progression of premalignant lesions in a lung cancer susceptible mouse model (K-rasLA1). We show proton irradiation causes more complex DNA damage that is not completely repaired resulting in increased oxidative stress in the lungs both acutely and persistently. We further observed K-rasLA1 mice irradiated with protons had an increased number and size of initiated and premalignant lesions and adenomas that were often infiltrated with inflammatory cells. Proton irradiated mice had a lower median survival and increased carcinoma incidence as compared to unirradiated controls and X-rays exposed mice. Our conclusion is that exposure to proton irradiation enhances the progression of premalignant lesions to invasive carcinomas through persistent DNA damage, chronic oxidative stress, and immunosuppression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalLife Sciences in Space Research
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018



  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Bragg peak
  • Ionizing radiation
  • Lung cancer
  • Persistent DNA damage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Ecology
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

Cite this