LCN2 as a Potential Radiation Biodosimetry Marker
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Ionizing radiation was first discovered in 1895 by Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen. Since then, a plethora of scientific literature has thoroughly and explicitly confirmed the fact that ionizing radiation causes damage in biological systems. Today, the risk of high-dose radiation exposure is low for the average citizen; however, the possibility of terrorism or large-scale nuclear accidents is constantly increasing. Such a disaster could result in dangerous levels of radiation exposure in thousands of people and is regarded by most governments as one of the gravest threats facing our modern society. As such, there is a dire need for effective, robust, simple, and scalable diagnostic tools to identify the radiation dose received and direct palliative care for affected victims. However, the current state of radiation biodosimetry methods suitable for field scenarios remains alarmingly lacking, limiting the preparedness of our society to such catastrophic events. Here, we propose the use of lipocalin 2 (LCN2), a 25 kDa secreted glycoprotein, as a potential radiation biodosimetry marker for radiation damage. LCN2 expression is induced by radiation in mouse tissues and plasma in a dose-dependent manner. Our studies also revealed that LCN2 is upregulated in non-human primate plasma by ionizing radiation and persists at a constant level from 5 to 25 hours post exposure. This corresponds with the realistic time period during a radioactive disaster in which emergency responders can be expected to arrive, and victims of radiation exposure most critically require treatment for acute radiation syndrome. A diagnostic blood or urine test measuring LCN2 could provide rapid, inexpensive, and reliable evaluation of thousands of potentially exposed individuals, making it an ideal biodosimetry marker for use in large-scale nuclear disaster scenarios.