Severity of radiation pneumonitis, from clinical, dosimetric and biological features: a pilot study


Background and objective: Radiation pneumonitis (RP) could be a lethal complication of lung cancer treatment. No reliable predictors of RP severity have been recognized. This prospective pilot study was performed to identify early predictors of high grade lung toxicity and to evaluate clinical, biological or dosimetric features associated with different grades of toxicity. Method: Sixteen patients with non-small cell lung cancer with indication of concurrent chemoradiotherapy using 60 Gy/2 Gy/fraction starting at cycle one of platinum based chemotherapy were included. Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), pulmonary function testing (PFT), and 18F-2-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose positron-emission tomography was performed before radiotherapy (RT), after three weeks of treatment, and two months post-RT. For analysis, patients were grouped by grade (low [G1-G2] vs. high [G3-G5]). The two groups were compared to identify predictors of RP. Protein expression BAL and lung tissue metabolism was evaluated in two patients (RP-G1 vs. RP-G3). Categorical variables such as comorbidities, stages and locations were summarized as percentages. Radiation doses, pulmonary function values and time to RP were summarized by medians with ranges or as means with standard deviation. Longitudinal analysis PFT was performed by a T-test. Results: All 16 patients developed RP, as follows: G1 (5 pts; 31.3%); G2 (5 pts; 31.3%); G3 (5 pts; 31.3%); and G5 (1 pts; 6.1%). Patients with high grade RP presented significant decrease (p = 0.02) in diffusing lung capacity for carbon monoxide (DLCO) after three weeks of RT. No correlation between dosimetric values and RP grades was observed. BAL analysis of the selected patients showed that CXCL-1, CD154, IL-1ra, IL-23, MIF, PAI-1 and IFN-γ were overexpressed in the lungs of the RP-G3 patient, even before treatment. The pre-RT SUVmax value in the RP-G3 patient was non-significantly higher than in the patient with RP-G1. Conclusions: RT induces some degree of RP. Our data suggest that decrease in DLCO% is the most sensitive parameter for the early detection of RP. Moreover, we detect biological differences between the two grades of pneumonitis, highlighting the potential value of some cytokines as a prognostic marker for developing high grade lung toxicity. Further multicenter studies with larger sample size are essential to validate these findings.

Journal article

Aso, Samantha, Navarro‑Martin, Arturo, Castillo, Richard, et al.. "Severity of radiation pneumonitis, from clinical, dosimetric and biological features: a pilot study." Radiation Oncology, 15, (2020) Springer Nature:

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