Autophagy correlates with maintenance of salivary gland function following radiation

Maria Morgan-Bathke, Grace A. Hill, Zoey I. Harris, Her H. Lin, Alex M. Chibly, Rob R. Klein, Randy Burd, David K. Ann, Kirsten H. Limesand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The current standard of care for head and neck cancer includes surgical resection of the tumor followed by targeted head and neck radiation. This radiotherapy results in a multitude of negative side effects in adjacent normal tissues. Autophagy is a cellular mechanism that could be targeted to ameliorate these side effects based on its role in cellular homeostasis. In this study, we utilized Atg5 f/f;Aqp5-Cre mice which harbor a conditional knockout of Atg5, in salivary acinar cells. These autophagy-deficient mice display increased radiosensitivity. Treatment of wild-type mice with radiation did not robustly induce autophagy following radiotherapy, however, using a model of preserved salivary gland function by IGF-1-treatment prior to irradiation, we demonstrate increased autophagosome formation 6-8 hours following radiation. Additionally, administration of IGF-1 to Atg5 f/f;Aqp5-Cre mice did not preserve physiological function. Thus, autophagy appears to play a beneficial role in salivary glands following radiation and pharmacological induction of autophagy could alleviate the negative side effects associated with therapy for head and neck cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5206
JournalScientific reports
StatePublished - Jun 6 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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