Although favorable immune responses to low-dose irradiation (LDI) have been observed in normal mice, i.e., a hormesis effect, little is known about the effects of LDI in infectious diseases. In this study, we examined the effects of LDI on mice with sepsis, a severe and often lethal hyperinflammatory response to bacteria. Female C57BL/6 mice were whole-body irradiated with 10 cGy 48 h before Escherichia coli infection, and survival, bacterial clearance, cytokines, and antioxidants were quantified. LDI pretreatment significantly increased survival from 46.7% in control mice to 75% in mice with sepsis. The bacterial burden was significantly lower in the blood, spleen, and kidney of LDI-treated mice than in those of control septic mice. The levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, e.g., IL-1β and IL-6, as well as anti-inflammatory IL-10 were markedly reduced in pre-LDI septic mice. Nitric oxide production by peritoneal macrophages was also reduced in pre-LDI septic mice. Immune cells in the spleen increased and Nrf2 and HO-1 were induced in pre-LDI septic mice. LDI stimulates the immune response and minimizes lethality in septic mice via enhanced bacterial clearance and reduced initial proinflammatory responses.
- Immune response
- Low-dose irradiation