Scientists form Sweden's Karolinska Institutet have reasons to believe that cardiovascular disorders in cancer survivors could be caused by the radiotherapy received by them during treatment of cancer.
Changes in gene expression are caused by radiotherapy, which in turn causes arterial inflammation. This could explain why cancer survivors tend to develop cardiovascular disease later in life.
The findings of the study were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology on March 23.
Dr. Martin Halle, a researcher in the Department of Medicine, Center for Molecular Medicine at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, said that researchers have resorted to cell and animal studies to study the immediate effects of radiotherapy.
The long term effects of radio-therapy on human bold vessels are being studied by analyzing autografts. Autografts are portions of skin, muscle or bone which are transplanted from one part of the human body to the area affected by the tumor. This is done to restructure the defects that are left behind after a tumor has been removed.
Researchers found that arteries exposed to radiotherapy showed signs of chronic inflammation and increased activity of a transcription factor (a protein important for gene expression) that is central to the development of atherosclerosis.