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      The radiation-induced fibroatrophic process: therapeutic perspective via the antioxidant pathway.

      Radiotherapy and Oncology
      Animals, Antioxidants, therapeutic use, Atrophy, drug therapy, etiology, pathology, Clinical Trials, Phase II as Topic, Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation, Fibrosis, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Radiation Injuries, therapy, Radiation Injuries, Experimental, Radiotherapy, High-Energy, adverse effects, methods, Risk Assessment, Tomography, X-Ray Computed, Treatment Outcome

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          Abstract

          The radiation-induced fibroatrophic process (RIF) constitutes a late, local and unavoidable sequela to high-dose radiotherapy, traditionally considered irreversible. Today, this process is partly reversible, thanks to recent progress in understanding the physiopathology of the lesions it causes and the results of recent clinical trials using antioxidant therapy. This review includes a synthetic description of the static and dynamic features of the RIF process, as reflected by its clinical, instrumental and histopathological characteristics, and by its cellular and molecular regulation. Schematically, three successive clinical and histopathological phases can be distinguished: a pre-fibrotic aspecific inflammatory phase, a constitutive fibrotic cellular phase, and a matrix densification and remodelling phase, possibly ending in terminal tissular necrosis. The respective roles of the chief actors in the RIF process are defined, as well as their development with time. A fibroblastic stromal hypothesis is suggested revolving around a 'gravitational effect' exerted by the couple ROS (reactive oxygen species)--fibroblasts, and partly mediated by TGF-beta1. A variety of strategies have been tested for the management of RIF. In the light of the mechanisms described, a curative procedure has been proposed via the antioxidant pathway. In particular, it was showed that superoxide dismutase and combined pentoxifylline-tocopherol treatment enables the process of established radiation-induced fibroatrophy to be greatly reduced or even reversed, both in clinical practice and animal experiments. The efficacy of combined pentoxifylline-tocopherol treatment in superficial RIF was confirmed in a randomised clinical trial, and then in successful phase II trials especially in uterine fibroatrophy and osteoradionecrosis. It is of critical importance to evaluate these new management approaches in larger clinical trials and to improve the recording of results for better outcome analysis. Mechanistic studies are always necessary to improve understanding of the RIF process and the antifibrotic drug action.

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