Journal of Endocrinological Investigation

, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 261–269 | Cite as

The effect of cervical X-irradiation on activity index of thyrocytes and plasma TSH: A pre-clinical model for radiation-induced thyroid damage

  • H. M. van Santen
  • J. E. Van Dijk
  • H. Rodermond
  • F. Vansenne
  • N. Meertens
  • J. Haveman
  • E. Endert
  • J. J. M. De Vijlder
  • T. Vulsma
Original Articles


Because radiotherapy in the head and neck region is necessary in the treatment of childhood cancer, possibilities to prevent damage to the thyroid gland must be explored. We developed a model in which radiation-induced effects can be investigated in a way that these effects can be quantified, using thyroid dysmorphology and plasma TSH. Thirty-five Wistar rats, 5 weeks old, were X-irradiated on the cervical region, with a single dose varying from 0 to 20 Gy. After 6 weeks, TSH, T4 and T3 were determined, and thyroid glands were processed for histological examination by two independent pathologists. A histological classification scale was developed, using follicular size, colloid density and cell height of thyrocytes to measure hyperplasia and hypertrophy. By the sum of these scores, a cell-activity index was calculated, which was related to plasma TSH concentration. Numbers of PAS-positive droplets and epithelial desquamation were also counted. Inter-observer reliability was assessed. Good to very good reliability was found for scores of follicular size, colloid density and cell height. Significant increase of cell-activity index was found after 10, 15 and 20 Gy. The plasma TSH concentration was positively correlated to the cell-activity index, increasing with radiation-doses up to 15 Gy. The number of desquamated cells was significantly increased after radiation doses >10 Gy, with moderate reliability. In conclusion, this model using cell-activity index of thyrocytes together with plasma thyrotropin concentrations and desquamation of cells can be used for interpretation and future (pre-clinical) studies of prevention of radiation-induced thyroid damage.


X-radiation thyroid gland hypothyroidism thyrotropin morphology 


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Copyright information

© Italian Society of Endocrinology (SIE) 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. M. van Santen
    • 1
  • J. E. Van Dijk
    • 2
  • H. Rodermond
    • 3
  • F. Vansenne
    • 1
  • N. Meertens
    • 2
  • J. Haveman
    • 3
  • E. Endert
    • 4
  • J. J. M. De Vijlder
    • 1
  • T. Vulsma
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Department of Pediatrics“Emma Children’s” HospitalAmsterdamthe Netherlands
  2. 2.Division of Pathology, Department of Pathobiology, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineUtrecht UniversityUtrechtthe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of RadiotherapyUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamthe Netherlands
  4. 4.Laboratory of Endocrinology and Radiochemistry, Department of Clinical Chemistry, Academic Medical CenterUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamthe Netherlands

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