Radiotherapy and oncology : journal of the European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology vol:18 issue:4 pages:299-305
The mechanisms involved in the differential recovery of CD4 (helper/inducer phenotype) and CD8 (cytotoxic/suppressor phenotype) T-lymphocytes after fractionated local irradiation were investigated. In mice, a better recovery of CD4 cells than of CD8 cells was found, while the reverse has been described in humans. Differences in radiosensitivity between CD4 and CD8 mouse splenocytes could not be found. No sequestration of CD8 cells in irradiated tissues could be demonstrated. Irradiation of the thymus did not influence the observed immune changes. Altered thymic production of CD4 and CD8 cells could be excluded by intrathymic injection of FITC (fluorescein isothiocyanate). Hindlimb and tail irradiation did not induce changes in the morphology of the thymus and the phenotype of the thymocytes. These results suggest that the differential recovery of CD4 and CD8 T-lymphocytes after local irradiation is determined by extrathymic factors in man and mice, and that the observed differences in immune recovery between man and mice are due to defective thymic function in the former and normal function in the latter.