Background: Radiation-induced liver disease (RILD) is a dose-limiting factor in curative radiation therapy (RT) for liver cancers, making early detection of radiation-associated liver injury absolutely essential for medical intervention. A metabolomic approach was used to determine metabolic signatures that could serve as biomarkers for early detection of RILD in mice. Methods: Anesthetized C57BL/6 mice received 0, 10 or 50 Gy Whole Liver Irradiation (WLI) and were contrasted to mice, which received 10 Gy whole body irradiation (WBI). Liver and plasma samples were collected at 24 hours after irradiation. The samples were processed using Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry and Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry. Results: Twenty four hours after WLI, 407 metabolites were detected in liver samples while 347 metabolites were detected in plasma. Plasma metabolites associated with 50 Gy WLI included several amino acids, purine and pyrimidine metabolites, microbial metabolites, and most prominently bradykinin and 3-indoxyl-sulfate. Liver metabolites associated with 50 Gy WLI included pentose phosphate, purine, and pyrimidine metabolites in liver. Plasma biomarkers in common between WLI and WBI were enriched in microbial metabolites such as 3 indoxyl sulfate, indole-3-lactic acid, phenyllactic acid, pipecolic acid, hippuric acid, and markers of DNA damage such as 2-deoxyuridine. Metabolites associated with tryptophan and indoles may reflect radiation-induced gut microbiome effects. Predominant liver biomarkers in common between WBI and WLI were amino acids, sugars, TCA metabolites (fumarate), fatty acids (lineolate, n-hexadecanoic acid) and DNA damage markers (uridine). Conclusions: We identified a set of metabolomic markers that may prove useful as plasma biomarkers of RILD and WBI. Pathway analysis also suggested that the unique metabolic changes observed after liver irradiation was an integrative response of the intestine, liver and kidney.
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