Focusing in on radiation induced brain injury
Cognitive dysfunction following cranial radiotherapy remains a significant clinical problem, particularly in patients receiving whole brain radiation and in children. This has prompted development of therapeutic strategies that spare regions involved in learning and memory, particularly the hippocampus, which contains a radiation-sensitive population of neural precursor cells that actively divide in adulthood and contribute to hippocampal circuitry. Approaches that model localized brain irradiation in rodents can provide important insights into in-field and out-of-field changes that might contribute to cognitive dysfunction. Parihar and colleagues have used such an approach to ascertain cognitive and tissue changes in rats subjected to unilateral or bilateral hippocampal irradiation. Their findings have implications for the application of localized radiotherapy and provide insights for understanding brain radiation injury.