Ionizing radiation and heart risks

Souparno Bhattacharya, Aroumougame Asaithamby

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Cardiovascular disease and cancer are the two leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. As advancements in radiation therapy (RT) have significantly increased the number of cancer survivors, the risk of radiation-induced cardiovascular disease (RICD) in this group is a growing concern. Recent epidemiological data suggest that accidental or occupational exposure to low dose radiation, in addition to therapeutic ionizing radiation, can result in cardiovascular complications. The progression of radiation-induced cardiotoxicity often takes years to manifest but is also multifaceted, as the heart may be affected by a variety of pathologies. The risk of cardiovascular disease development in RT cancer survivors has been known for 40 years and several risk factors have been identified in the last two decades. However, most of the early work focused on clinical symptoms and manifestations, rather than understanding cellular processes regulating homeostatic processes of the cardiovascular system in response to radiation. Recent studies have suggested that a different approach may be needed to refute the risk of cardiovascular disease following radiation exposure. In this review, we will focus on how different radiation types and doses may induce cardiovascular complications, highlighting clinical manifestations and the mechanisms involved in the pathophysiology of radiation-induced cardiotoxicity. We will finally discuss how current and future research on heart development and homeostasis can help reduce the incidence of RICD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-25
Number of pages12
JournalSeminars in Cell and Developmental Biology
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Cardiomyocyte renewal
  • DNA damage
  • Heart disease
  • Ionizing radiation
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Space radiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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