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Plasma-derived extracellular vesicles yield predictive markers of cranial irradiation exposure in mice


Ionizing radiation exposure to the brain is common for patients with a variety of CNS related malignancies. This exposure is known to induce structural and functional alterations to the brain, impacting dendritic complexity, spine density and inflammation. Over time, these changes are associated with cognitive decline. However, many of these impacts are only observable long after irradiation. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are shed from cells in nearly all known tissues, with roles in many disease pathologies. EVs are becoming an important target for identifying circulating biomarkers. The aim of this study is to identify minimally invasive biomarkers of ionizing radiation damage to the CNS that are predictors of late responses that manifest as persistent cognitive impairments. Using a clinically relevant 9 Gy irradiation paradigm, we exposed mice to cranial (head only) irradiation. Using metabolomic and lipidomic profiling, we analyzed their plasma and plasma-derived EVs two days and two weeks post-exposure to detect systemic signs of damage. We identified significant changes associated with inflammation in EVs. Whole-plasma profiling provided further evidence of systemic injury. These studies are the first to demonstrate that profiling of plasma-derived EVs may be used to study clinically relevant markers of ionizing radiation toxicities to the brain.

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