Anti-inflammatory low-dose therapy is well established, whereas the immunomodulatory impact of doses below 0.1 Gy is much less clear. In this study, we investigated dose, dose rate and time-dependent effects in a dose range of 0.005 to 2 Gy on immune parameters after
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Anti-inflammatory low-dose therapy is well established, whereas the immunomodulatory impact of doses below 0.1 Gy is much less clear. In this study, we investigated dose, dose rate and time-dependent effects in a dose range of 0.005 to 2 Gy on immune parameters after whole body irradiation (IR) using a pro-inflammatory (ApoE−/−) and a wild type mouse model. Long-term effects on spleen function (proliferation, monocyte expression) were analyzed 3 months, and short-term effects on immune plasma parameters (IL6, IL10, IL12p70, KC, MCP1, INFγ, TGFβ, fibrinogen, sICAM, sVCAM, sE-selectin/CD62) were analyzed 1, 7 and 28 days after Co60 γ-irradiation (IR) at low dose rate (LDR, 0.001 Gy/day) and at high dose rate (HDR). In vitro measurements of murine monocyte (WEHI-274.1) adhesion and cytokine release (KC, MCP1, IL6, TGFβ) after low-dose IR (150 kV X-ray unit) of murine endothelial cell (EC) lines (H5V, mlEND1, bEND3) supplement the data. RT-PCR revealed significant reduction of Ki67 and CD68 expression in the spleen of ApoE−/− mice after 0.025 to 2 Gy exposure at HDR, but only after 2 Gy at LDR. Plasma levels in wild type mice, showed non-linear time-dependent induction of proinflammatory cytokines and reduction of TGFβ at doses as low as 0.005 Gy at both dose rates, whereas sICAM and fibrinogen levels changed in a dose rate-specific manner. In ApoE−/− mice, levels of sICAM increased and fibrinogen decreased at both dose rates, whereas TGFβ increased mainly at HDR. Non-irradiated plasma samples revealed significant age-related enhancement of cytokines and adhesion molecules except for sICAM. In vitro data indicate that endothelial cells may contribute to systemic IR effects and confirm changes of adhesion properties suggested by altered sICAM plasma levels. The differential immunomodulatory effects shown here provide insights in inflammatory changes occurring at doses far below standard anti-inflammatory therapy and are of particular importance after diagnostic and chronic environmental exposures.