Purpose: Radiotherapy is a crucial treatment approach for many types of cancer. Radiation pneumonitis (RP) is one of the major complications in chest irradiation. Fucoidan is a sulfated polysaccharide found mainly in various species of brown seaweed. Recent studies have demonstrated the anti-inflammatory effects of fucoidan. However, no study has reported a well-established prophylactic agent for RP. Therefore, we investigated the effects of fucoidan on RP and radiotherapy (RT)-induced lung fibrosis. Materials and Methods: We compared RP and RT-induced fibrosis in lung tissue specimens obtained from irradiated (10 Gy/shot) C57BL/6 mice with or without fucoidan administration (200 mg/kg/day, oral gavage for 14 days). The expression patterns of cytokines in the pleural fluid were determined using a cytokine array and confirmed through enzyme immunoassays. Results: Fucoidan administration attenuated RP and RT-induced fibrosis in lung tissues. Decreased neutrophil and macrophage accumulation was observed in irradiated lung tissues, and radiation-induced lung fibrosis, as demonstrated by Masson trichrome staining, was attenuated. We investigated the expression patterns of inflammatory cytokines in the irradiated lung pleural fluid through the protein array; results revealed that fucoidan administration changed the expression patterns of inflammatory cytokines in irradiated lung tissues. Furthermore, the expression levels of TIMP-1, CXCL1, MCP-1, MIP-2, and interleukin-1Ra were substantially enhanced in the pleural fluid, but fucoidan administration significantly reduced their expression. Conclusions: Fucoidan changes the expression patterns of inflammatory cytokines, which may consequently attenuate RP and RT-induced lung fibrosis.
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