Acute skin damage and late radiation-induced fibrosis and inflammation in murine ears after high-dose irradiation

Annique C. Dombrowsky, Jannis Schauer, Matthias Sammer, Andreas Blutke, Dietrich W.M. Walsh, Benjamin Schwarz, Stefan Bartzsch, Annette Feuchtinger, Judith Reindl, Stephanie E. Combs, Günther Dollinger, Thomas E. Schmid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The use of different scoring systems for radiation-induced toxicity limits comparability between studies. We examined dose-dependent tissue alterations following hypofractionated X-ray irradiation and evaluated their use as scoring criteria. Four dose fractions (0, 5, 10, 20, 30 Gy/fraction) were applied daily to ear pinnae. Acute effects (ear thickness, erythema, desquamation) were monitored for 92 days after fraction 1. Late effects (chronic inflammation, fibrosis) and the presence of transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGFβ1)-expressing cells were quantified on day 92. The maximum ear thickness displayed a significant positive correlation with fractional dose. Increased ear thickness and erythema occurred simultaneously, followed by desquamation from day 10 onwards. A significant dose-dependency was observed for the severity of erythema, but not for desquamation. After 4 × 20 and 4 × 30 Gy, inflammation was significantly increased on day 92, whereas fibrosis and the abundance of TGFβ1-expressing cells were only marginally increased after 4 × 30 Gy. Ear thickness significantly correlated with the severity of inflammation and fibrosis on day 92, but not with the number of TGFβ1-expressing cells. Fibrosis correlated significantly with inflammation and fractional dose. In conclusion, the parameter of ear thickness can be used as an objective, numerical and dose-dependent quantification criterion to characterize the severity of acute toxicity and allow for the prediction of late effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number727
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute
  • Fractionated radiotherapy
  • High-dose
  • Hypofractionation
  • Late
  • Side effects
  • Skin


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