Clinical and Experimental Medicine

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 417–426 | Cite as

Radiation-induced lung injury: latest molecular developments, therapeutic approaches, and clinical guidance

  • Lina Lu
  • Chao Sun
  • Qiong Su
  • Yanbin Wang
  • Jia Li
  • Zhong Guo
  • Lihua ChenEmail author
  • Hong ZhangEmail author
Review Article


Cancer research has advanced throughout the years with respect to the personalization of the treatments and to targeting cancer-related molecular signatures on different organs. Still, the adverse events of the treatments such as radiotherapy are of high concern as they may increase the mortality rate due to their severity. With the improved efficiency of cancer treatments, patient survival has been increasing. Consequently, the number of patients with adverse effects from radiotherapy is also expected to increase in the forthcoming years. Therefore, approaches for personalized treatments include the elimination of adverse events and decreasing the toxicity in healthy tissues while increasing the efficiency of cancer cytotoxicity. In this context, this paper aims to discuss the recent advances in the field of thorax irradiation therapy and its related toxicities leading to radiation pneumonitis in cancer patients. Molecular mechanisms involved in the radiation-induced lung injury and approaches used to overcome this lung injury are discussed. The discourse covers approaches such as therapeutic administration of natural products, current and prospective radioprotective drugs, and applications of mesenchymal stem cells for radiation-induced lung injury.


Cancer Lung Radiation pneumonitis Fibrosis Radiation Therapy 



The work was supported by Innovation and Entrepreneurship Talent Project of Lanzhou (2018-RC-81), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81560508, 51563022), and Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (31920180020).


The work was supported by Innovation and Entrepreneurship Talent Project of Lanzhou (2018-RC-81), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81560508, 51563022), and Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (31920180020).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chemical Engineering Institute of Northwest Minzu UniversityLanzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Key Laboratory for Utility of Environment-Friendly Composite Materials and Biomass in University of Gansu ProvinceLanzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Institute of Modern PhysicsChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Medical College of Northwest Minzu UniversityLanzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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