Background: Radiation therapy has been applied to prolong the duration of lymphedema. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of radiation on the development of lymphedema in a mouse hindlimb model. Methods and Results: A total of 24 Balb/c mice underwent the right popliteal lymph node excision and the afferent and efferent lymphatics blockage. The radiation group (n = 12) received a single 20 Gy radiation 1 day before surgery in the right hindlimb of each mouse, whereas the control group (n = 12) only received surgery without radiation. The right hindpaw thickness of each mouse was measured twice a week for 4 weeks. Fluorescence microscopy images using fluorescein isothiocyanate-dextran tracer were obtained once weekly. Immunohistochemical (IHC) staining images using anti-lymphatic vessel endothelial hyaluronan receptor-1 (anti-LYVE-1) were obtained at 4 weeks after surgery. The radiation group showed significant increase in the thickness of the right hind paws from 0.5 to 2 weeks compared with the control group. As for fluorescence lymphography, the radiation group showed a lower number of regenerated lymphatics and more congestion of tracers in the operated limb at the surgery sites at 1, 2, 3, and 4 weeks after surgery. For the IHC analysis, the radiation group showed a lower number of regenerated lymphatics per high-power field at the surgery site than the control group. Conclusion: Radiation therapy transiently aggravated the extent of lymphedema by inhibiting regenerated lymphatics in a mouse hindlimb model. However, it did not prolong the duration of lymphedema because the cutaneous interstitial flow contributes to the lymphatic fluid clearance.
- experimental lymphedema
- lymph drainage
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine