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Cardiology Research and Practice
Volume 2011, Article ID 858262, 8 pages
Review Article

Preclinical Research into Basic Mechanisms of Radiation-Induced Heart Disease

Division of Radiation Health, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, 4301 West Markham, Slot 522-10, Little Rock, AR 72205, USA

Received 15 June 2010; Accepted 4 September 2010

Academic Editor: Syed Wamique Yusuf

Copyright © 2011 M. Boerma and M. Hauer-Jensen. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Radiation-induced heart disease (RIHD) is a potentially severe side effect of radiotherapy of thoracic and chest wall tumors if all or part of the heart was included in the radiation field. RIHD presents clinically several years after irradiation and manifestations include accelerated atherosclerosis, pericardial and myocardial fibrosis, conduction abnormalities, and injury to cardiac valves. There is no method to prevent or reverse these injuries when the heart is exposed to ionizing radiation. This paper presents an overview of recent studies that address the role of microvascular injury, endothelial dysfunction, mast cells, and the renin angiotensin system in animal models of cardiac radiation injury. These insights into the basic mechanisms of RIHD may lead to the identification of targets for intervention in this late radiotherapy side effect.