These quantitative data confirm our histology observations described above (Figure 1). Lung tissue injury induced by radiotherapy leads to an inflammatory process caused by radiation damage to capillary endothelial cells and epithelial lung cells which results in pneumonitis and fibrosis. To assess further the effect of axitinib on the vasculature of learn more the normal lung tissue, lung sections were stained with fluorescent anti-CD31 antibody, anti-SMA
and anti-collagen to stain endothelial cells, pericytes and the vessel basement membranes, respectively. This fluorescent technique allows for visualization of vessel abnormalities including interruptions in the continuity of basement membrane collagen and/or thickening and projections in basement membrane, as previously described  and  Representative images of large and small vessels of the lung tissues are presented in Figure 2. We also quantitated the percent selleck chemical of damaged vessels in 20 fields of 40X. Vessels were considered damaged if the basement membrane was discontinuous (Figure 2C,F), or enlarged or had abnormal projections (Figure 2E).
Lungs from control mice showed a majority of vessels with integral basement membranes (Figure 2A,B), with 31% showing damage. Axitinib affected some of the vessels (about 36%) which showed interruptions in the basement membrane (Figure 2C) while other vessels had a full basement membrane (Figure 2D). Lungs treated with radiation showed alterations in the basement membrane of vessels including thickening and projections (Figure 2E) or interruptions in the continuity of the collagen (Figure 2 F), which occurred in 55% of the vessels, in agreement with our previous reported studies . In lungs treated with axitinib combined with radiation a lower percentage of 36% vessels looked damaged while the other vessels looked healthy (Figure 2G,H). Stopping axitinib for the last 5 weeks of the experiment caused a decrease to 28% damaged vessels (Figure 2I,J). No significant difference was observed between the selleck treatment
groups but a trend in decreased damage in the lung vasculature was seen in axitinib + radiation compared to radiation alone (p = 0.13). Lung pneumonitis induced by radiation is associated with fibrosis, which is a late event in radiation-induced injury and the result of an inflammatory process. The extent of fibrosis was evaluated in lung tissue sections using the Masson’s Trichrome stain. At a late time point of over two months after radiation, we observed a dramatic increase in fibrosis in broncho-vascular bundles visualized by the intense blue staining of collagen fibers surrounding the vessels and bronchi (Figure 3, Table 2). These findings are typical of radiation induced damage in lung tissue and have been reproduced in several experiments in our laboratory.