Metabolomic Profiling of Urine Samples from Mice Exposed to Protons Reveals Radiation Quality and Dose Specific Differences

Evagelia C. Laiakis, Daniela Trani, Bo-Hyun Moon, Steven J. Strawn, Albert J., Jr. Fornace*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


As space travel is expanding to include private tourism and travel beyond low-Earth orbit, so is the risk of exposure to space radiation. Galactic cosmic rays and solar particle events have the potential to expose space travelers to significant doses of radiation that can lead to increased cancer risk and other adverse health consequences. Metabolomics has the potential to assess an individual's risk by exploring the metabolic perturbations in a biofluid or tissue. In this study, C57BL/6 mice were exposed to 0.5 and 2 Gy of 1 GeV/nucleon of protons and the levels of metabolites were evaluated in urine at 4 h after radiation exposure through liquid chromatography coupled to time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Significant differences were identified in metabolites that map to the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and fatty acid metabolism, suggesting that energy metabolism is severely impacted after exposure to protons. Additionally, various pathways of amino acid metabolism (tryptophan, tyrosine, arginine and proline and phenylalanine) were affected with potential implications for DNA damage repair and cognitive impairment. Finally, presence of products of purine and pyrimidine metabolism points to direct DNA damage or increased apoptosis. Comparison of these metabolomic data to previously published data from our laboratory with gamma radiation strongly suggests a more pronounced effect on metabolism with protons. This is the first metabolomics study with space radiation in an easily accessible biofluid such as urine that further investigates and exemplifies the biological differences at early time points after exposure to different radiation qualities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)382-390
JournalRadiation Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


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