Radiother Oncol 2014 May 17;111(2):206-11. Epub 2014 Apr 17.
Department of Oncology, UCL Cancer Institute, University College London, United Kingdom; Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology, University of Leeds, United Kingdom.
Background And Purpose: Mast cells are involved in the pathogenesis of radiation fibrosis and may be a therapeutic target. The mechanism of increased mast cell number in relation to acute and late tissue responses in human skin was investigated.
Materials And Methods: Punch biopsies of skin 1 and 15-18 months after breast radiotherapy and a contralateral control biopsy were collected. Mast cells were quantified by immunohistochemistry using the markers c-Kit and tryptase. Stem cell factor (SCF) and collagen-1 expression was analysed by qRT-PCR. Clinical photographic scores were performed at post-surgical baseline and 18 months and 5 years post-radiotherapy. Primary human dermal microvascular endothelial cell (HDMEC) cultures were exposed to 2Gy ionising radiation and p53 and SCF expression was analysed by Western blotting and ELISA.
Results: Dermal mast cell numbers were increased at 1 (p=0.047) and 18 months (p=0.040) using c-Kit, and at 18 months (p=0.024) using tryptase immunostaining. Collagen-1 mRNA in skin was increased at 1 month (p=0.047) and 18 months (p=0.032) and SCF mRNA increased at 1 month (p=0.003). None of 16 cases scored had a change in photographic appearance at 5 years, compared to baseline. SCF expression was not increased in HDMECs irradiated in vitro.
Conclusions: Increased mast cell number was associated with up-regulated collagen-1 expression in human skin at early and late time points. This increase could be secondary to elevated SCF expression at 1 month after radiotherapy. Although mast cells accumulate around blood vessels, no endothelial cell secretion of SCF was seen after in vitro irradiation. Modification of mast cell number and collagen-1 expression may be observed in skin at 1 and 18 months after radiotherapy in breast cancer patients with no change in photographic breast appearance at 5 years.