Adv Pharm Bull. 2018;8(4): 697-704.
doi: 10.15171/apb.2018.078
PMID: 30607342
PMCID: PMC6311649
Scopus ID: 85057721304
  Abstract View: 1109
  PDF Download: 746

Research Article

Metformin Protects against Radiation-Induced Pneumonitis and Fibrosis and Attenuates Upregulation of Dual Oxidase Genes Expression

Rasoul Azmoonfar 1, Peyman Amini 2, Hana Saffar 3, Saeed Rezapoor 2, Elahe Motevaseli 4, Mohsen Cheki 5, Rasoul Yahyapour 6, Bagher farhood 7, Farzad Nouruzi 8, Ehsan Khodamoradi 1, Dheyauldeen Shabeeb 9,10, Ahmed Eleojo Musa 11, Masoud Najafi 1* ORCID logo

1 Radiology and Nuclear Medicine Department, School of Paramedical Sciences, Kermanshah University of Medical Science, Kermanshah, Iran.
2 Department of Radiology, Faculty of Paramedical, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
3 Clinical and Anatomical Pathologist at Tehran University of Medical Science, Imam Khomeini Hospital Complex, Tehran, Iran.
4 Department of Molecular Medicine, School of Advanced Technologies in Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
5 Department of Radiologic Technology, Faculty of Paramedicine, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, Iran.
6 School of Medicine, Jiroft University of Medical Sciences, Jiroft, Iran.
7 Departments of Medical Physics and Radiology, Faculty of Paramedical Sciences, Kashan University of Medical Sciences, Kashan, Iran.
8 Department of Medical Radiation Engineering, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran.
9 Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences (International Campus), Tehran, Iran.
10 Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, University of Misan, Misan, Iraq.
11 Research Center for Molecular and Cellular Imaging, Tehran University of Medical Sciences (International Campus), Tehran, Iran.


Purpose: Lung tissue is one of the most sensitive organs to ionizing radiation (IR). Early and late side effects of exposure to IR can limit the radiation doses delivered to tumors that are within or adjacent to this organ. Pneumonitis and fibrosis are the main side effects of radiotherapy for this organ. IL-4 and IL-13 have a key role in the development of pneumonitis and fibrosis. Metformin is a potent anti-fibrosis and redox modulatory agent that has shown radioprotective effects. In this study, we aimed to evaluate possible upregulation of these cytokines and subsequent cascades such as IL4-R1, IL-13R1, Dual oxidase 1 (DUOX1) and DUOX2. In addition, we examined the potential protective effect of metformin in these cytokines and genes, as well as histopathological changes in rat’s lung tissues. Methods: 20 rats were divided into 4 groups: control; metformin treated; radiation + metformin; and radiation. Irradiation was performed with a 60Co source delivering 15 Gray (Gy) to the chest area. After 10 weeks, rats were sacrificed and their lung tissues were removed for histopathological, real-time PCR and ELISA assays. Results: Irradiation of lung was associated with an increase in IL-4 cytokine level, as well as the expression of IL-4 receptor-a1 (IL4ra1) and DUOX2 genes. However, there was no change in the level of IL-13 and its downstream gene including IL-13 receptor-a2 (IL13ra2). Moreover, histopathological evaluations showed significant infiltration of lymphocytes and macrophages, fibrosis, as well as vascular and alveolar damages. Treatment with metformin caused suppression of upregulated genes and IL-4 cytokine level, associated with amelioration of pathological changes. Conclusion: Results of this study showed remarkable pathological damages, an increase in the levels of IL-4, IL4Ra1 and Duox2, while that of IL-13 decreased. Treatment with metformin showed ability to attenuate upregulation of IL-4–DUOX2 pathway and other pathological damages to the lung after exposure to a high dose of IR.
Keywords: Radiation, Metformin, Inflammation, Fibrosis, DUOX1, DUOX2
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