New research suggests that low-dose ionising radiation (LDIR), such as X-ray irradiation, can reduce lesion size and reverse motor deficits in traumatic brain injury (TBI) and ischemic stroke.
The study demonstrates that LDIR may be a promising therapeutic strategy for TBI and stroke patients. Nearly half of survivors experience lifelong motor impairment and disability, but there is still no effective treatment for repairing the central nervous system after brain injury.
It has long been known that low-dose X-ray irradiation can enhance adaptive responses, including extending average life expectancy, stimulating the immune system, healing wounds and stimulating cell growth in animals. It also offers neuroprotection in animal models of neurodegenerative diseases, primarily due to immunomodulation; the modification of the immune system to help your body respond to a disease or illness.
Based on these studies, a team of neuroscientists speculated that the immunomodulatory effects of LDIR could play a pivotal role in mitigating damage and promoting wound healing after brain injury.
They found that low-dose X-ray irradiation completely reversed the motor deficits in TBI and stroke mice and restored brain activity after stroke. More importantly, low-dose X-ray irradiation treatment delayed by eight hours was still effective in allowing a complete recovery of motor function after stroke.
This represents a significant breakthrough in the field, showcasing unparalleled functional recovery, extensive axonal rewiring, and restoration of brain activity through a simple but straightforward intervention—low-dose X-ray irradiation.
Dr Bennett Au, University of Portsmouth’s School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences
The first author, Dr Bennett Au, is a CityU PhD graduate and lecturer at the University of Portsmouth’s School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences. He said: “This represents a significant breakthrough in the field, showcasing unparalleled functional recovery, extensive axonal rewiring, and restoration of brain activity through a simple but straightforward intervention—low-dose X-ray irradiation.
“Moving forward, we are looking for collaborations with clinicians and industrial partners to develop medical devices for localised X-ray irradiation aiming to address this unmet medical need for functional recovery following severe brain injuries.”
Research lead, Professor Eddie Ma Chi-him in the Department of Neuroscience at CityU, added: “Our findings indicate that LDIR is a promising therapeutic strategy for TBI and stroke patients.
“X-ray irradiation equipment for medical use is commonly available in all major hospitals. We believe this strategy could be used to address unmet medical needs in accelerating motor function restoration within a limited therapeutic window after severe brain injury, like TBI and stroke, warranting further clinical studies for a potential treatment strategy for patients.”
The research was supported by the General Research Fund of the Research Grants Council, the Health and Medical Research Fund of the Food and Health Bureau of the Hong Kong SAR Government, and the Shenzhen Science, Technology and Innovation Commission.
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