Bone marrow transplantation helps restore the intestinal mucosal barrier after total body irradiation in mice

Sarita Garg, Wenze Wang, Biju G. Prabath, Marjan Boerma, Junru Wang, Daohong Zhou, Martin Hauer-Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Bone marrow transplantation (BMT) substantially improves 10-day survival after total body irradiation (TBI), consistent with an effect on intestinal radiation death. Total body irradiation, in addition to injuring the intestinal epithelium, also perturbs the mucosal immune system, the largest immune system in the body. This study focused on how transplanted bone marrow cells (BMCs) help restore mucosal immune cell populations after sublethal TBI (8.0 Gy). We further evaluated whether transplanted BMCs: (a) home to sites of radiation injury using green fluorescent protein labeled bone marrow; and (b) contribute to restoring the mucosal barrier in vivo. As expected, BMT accelerated recovery of peripheral blood (PB) cells. In the intestine, BMT was associated with significant early recovery of mucosal granulocytes (P = 0.005). Bone marrow transplantation did not affect mucosal macrophages or lymphocyte populations at early time points, but enhanced the recovery of these cells from day 14 onward (P = 0.03). Bone marrow transplantation also attenuated radiation-induced increase of intestinal CXCL1 and restored IL-10 levels (P = 0.001). Most importantly, BMT inhibited the post-radiation increase in intestinal permeability after 10 Gy TBI (P = 0.02) and modulated the expression of tight junction proteins (P = 0.01-0.05). Green fluorescent protein-positive leukocytes were observed both in intestinal tissue and in PB. These findings strongly suggest that BMT, in addition to enhancing general hematopoietic and immune system recovery, helps restore the intestinal immune system and enhances intestinal mucosal barrier function. These findings may be important in the development and understanding of strategies to alleviate or treat intestinal radiation toxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-239
Number of pages11
JournalRadiation Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiation
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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