During the last decade, a multitude of experimental evidence has accumulated showing that low-dose radiation therapy (single dose 0.5-1 Gy) functionally modulates a variety of inflammatory processes and cellular compounds including endothelial (EC), mononuclear (PBMC) and polymorphonuclear (PMN) cells, respectively. These modulations comprise a hampered leukocyte adhesion to EC, induction of apoptosis, a reduced activity of the inducible nitric oxide synthase, and a lowered oxidative burst in macrophages. Moreover, irradiation with a single dose between 0.5-0.7 Gy has been shown to induce the expression of X-chromosome linked inhibitor of apoptosis and transforming growth factor beta 1, to reduce the expression of E-selectin and L-selectin from EC and PBMC, and to hamper secretion of Interleukin-1, or chemokine CCL20 from macrophages and PMN. Notably, a common feature of most of these responses is that they display discontinuous or biphasic dose dependencies, shared with "non-targeted" effects of low-dose irradiation exposure like the bystander response and hyper-radiosensitivity. Thus, the purpose of the present review is to discuss recent developments in the understanding of low-dose irradiation immune modulating properties with special emphasis on discontinuous dose response relationships.
Keywords: Biphasic dose response, discontinuous dose dependency, immune modulation, inflammation, ionizing radiation, low-dose radiation therapy