Longitudinal in vivo microcomputed tomography of mouse lungs: No evidence for radiotoxicity

Greetje Vande Velde, Ellen De Langhe, Jennifer Deborah Poelmans, Peter Bruyndonckx, Emiliano D’Agostino, Erik Verbeken, Ria Bogaerts, Rik Lories, Uwe Himmelreich

Research outputpeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Before microcomputed tomography (micro-CT) can be exploited to its full potential for longitudinal monitoring of transgenic and experimental mouse models of lung diseases, radiotoxic side effects such as inflammation or fibrosis must be considered. We evaluated dose and potential radiotoxicity to the lungs for long-term respiratory-gated high-resolution micro-CT protocols. Free-breathing C57Bl/6 mice underwent four different retrospectively respiratory gated micro-CT imaging schedules of repeated scans during 5 or 12 wk, followed by ex vivo micro-CT and detailed histological and biochemical assessment of lung damage. Radiation exposure, dose, and absorbed dose were determined by ionization chamber, thermoluminescent dosimeter measurements and Monte Carlo calculations. Despite the relatively large radiation dose delivered per micro-CT acquisition, mice did not show any signs of radiation-induced lung damage or fibrosis when scanned weekly during 5 and up to 12 wk. Doubling the scanning frequency and once tripling the radiation dose as to mimic the instant repetition of a failed scan also stayed without detectable toxicity after 5 wk of scanning. Histological analyses confirmed the absence of radiotoxic damage to the lungs, thereby demonstrating that long-term monitoring of mouse lungs using high-resolution micro-CT is safe. This opens perspectives for longitudinal monitoring of (transgenic) mouse models of lung diseases and therapeutic response on an individual basis with high spatial and temporal resolution, without concerns for radiation toxicity that could potentially influence the readout of micro-CTderived lung biomarkers. This work further supports the introduction of micro-CT for routine use in the preclinical pulmonary research field where postmortem histological approaches are still the gold standard.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L271-L279
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 5 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology

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