Exposure to internally deposited radionuclides is known to induce malignant tumors of various histological types. Thorotrast, a colloidal suspension of radioactive Thorium dioxide (232ThO2) that emits alpha-particles, was used as a radiographic contrast during World War II. Thorotrast is known to induce liver tumors, particularly intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC) and angiosarcoma (AS), decades after injection. Therefore, patients injected with Thorotrast comprise a suitable study group to understand biological effects of internal ionizing radiation injury. Autoradiography and X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF) were carried out on non-tumorous liver sections from Thorotrast-induced ICC (T-ICC) and Thorotrast-induced AS (T-AS). Autoradiography revealed that the slope of the regression line of the number of alpha tracks for the amount of deposited Thorium (232Th) was higher in non-tumorous parts of the liver with T-ICC than those with T-AS. XRF showed that the intensity ratio of Radium (Ra) to Thorium (Th) in non-tumorous liver tissue with T-ICC was significantly higher than that with T-AS. Furthermore, the mean 228Ra/232Th radioactivity ratio at the time of death calculated was also significantly higher in T-ICC cases than in T-AS cases. These suggest that the metabolic behavior of radionuclides such as relocation and excretion, as well as the content of deposited radionuclides, is a major factor in determining the histological type of Thorotrast-induced liver tumors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research