Main Article Content
Radiotherapy is one of the most effective methods for the treatment of cancer, but occurrence of adverse reactions developing in the co-irradiated normal tissue can be a threat for patients. Identification of individuals at risk of severe reaction is very difficult and considerable efforts have been made to correlate normal tissue toxicity with cellular responses to ionizing radiation. Genetic markers enabling to identify hyper-sensitive patients prior to treatment would considerably improve its outcome. Gene association studies should help to identify such markers. Expression levels of specific transcripts could be putative markers; in fact different studies found associations between gene expression profiles in normal cells and the reaction of normal tissues to radiation therapy. The finding that ionizing radiation induces the deregulation of a high number of genes suggests that also microRNAs that affect the expression of a large number of target genes may be involved. This review briefly introduces the mechanisms of radiation-induced normal tissue toxicity and summarizes clinical research focused on the evaluation of molecular biomarkers for predicting risk of injury to normal tissue, mainly describing gene transcripts alterations.
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