Neurological observations after local irradiation and hyperthermia of rat lumbosacral spinal cord

P Sminia, J J Hendriks, A H Van der Kracht, H M Rodermond, J Haveman, W Jansen, K Koedooder, N A Franken

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PURPOSE: Investigation of the effects of hyperthermia on the radiation response of rat lumbosacral spinal cord with respect to: (a) incidence of paralysis, (b) latency, (c) histopathology, and (d) tumor induction.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: Rat lumbosacral spinal cord with the cauda equina was single-dose irradiated with 15 to 32 Gy of x-rays. Hyperthermia for 30 min at a spinal cord temperature of 41.1, 42.3, and 42.6 +/- 0.4 degrees C was applied 5 to 10 min after irradiation by means of a 434 MHz microwave applicator. Animals were observed for 21 months while recording myelopathy and development of tumors.

RESULTS: The latent period for hind leg paralysis decreased with increasing radiation dose from 359 +/- 31 days (n = 9) after 20 Gy to 200 +/- 4 days (n = 5) after 32 Gy. Hyperthermia enhanced the radiation response of the lumbosacral spinal cord as evidenced by shortening of the latent period for paralysis and a decrease in the biological effective dose. After 20 Gy followed by 30 min 41.1 degrees C, latency was diminished to 214 +/- 16 days (n = 7, p < 0.001 vs. 20 Gy alone). The ED50 was 21.1 Gy, which was diminished to values between 16 and 17 Gy if radiation was followed by hyperthermia, giving a thermal enhancement ratio between 1.24 and 1.32. Histopathological examination of the spinal cord after combined treatment of x-rays and hyperthermia showed necrosis of nerve roots. Irradiation with 16, 20, 24, and 28 Gy (n = 77) alone led to tumor induction in 17 +/- 8% of the animals (pooled data). If followed by hyperthermia (n = 96), it was increased to 33 +/- 12% (p < 0.01). Most tumors induced by radiation and hyperthermia were sarcomas.

CONCLUSION: First, the radiation response of rat lumbosacral spinal cord was enhanced by heat. Second, latency for paralysis was shortened in the lower dose range. Third, no difference in pathology between x-rays alone or in combination with hyperthermia. Fourth, hyperthermia did increase radiation carcinogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-74
Number of pages10
JournalInternational journal of radiation oncology, biology, physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 1995


  • Animals
  • Cauda Equina/radiation effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Female
  • Hyperthermia, Induced/adverse effects
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced/etiology
  • Paralysis/etiology
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Radiation Tolerance
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Spinal Cord/radiation effects
  • Time Factors

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