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Dose-Response Relationship between Head and Neck Radiation and Damages to Gustatory Cells in Mice.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the dose-response relationship between radiation to the head and neck regions and damage observed in mice gustatory cells.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A total number of 45 mice (C57BL/6) (aged 8-12 weeks) were enrolled in this study. The head and neck regions of the mice were irradiated at doses of 8 Gy (low-dose group, n  = 15), 16 Gy (moderate-dose group, n  = 15), and 24 Gy (high-dose group, n  = 15). Each time, 3 mice from each group were sacrificed before radiation and then 2-day, 4-day, 7-day, and 14-day post the irradiation, respectively. The immune-histochemical staining method was employed to obtain gustatory papilla tissues and mark gustatory cells. Careful calculation of the numbers of proliferative cells, taste buds, and type II gustatory cells was conducted.

RESULTS: A decrease in the number of Ki-67-marked proliferative cells was noted at 2 days postirradiation (DPI), and the number of cells was recovered to the normal level at 4-DPI in each group. The number of Ki-67-marked proliferative cells was hypercompensation (significantly higher than normal) in the moderate-dose and high-dose groups at 7-DPI and insufficient compensation (significantly lower than normal) in the high-dose group at 14-DPI. There was a significant reduction of taste buds and type II gustatory cells at 2-DPI and is lowest at 4-DPI in the moderate-dose and high-dose groups, while little change was observed in the low-dose group.

CONCLUSION: Damages to Gustatory Cells after head and neck radiation were dose-related and compensation occurred in 14-DPI and may be insufficient when overdosed.

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