* PURPOSE: To determine whether variations in the plasma Flt-3 ligand (FL) concentration after radiotherapy (RT) may serve as a biomarker for radiation-induced bone marrow damage.
* METHODS AND MATERIALS: Twenty-seven patients were followed during RT. The irradiated bone marrow volume was determined. The blood cell counts and plasma FL concentrations were evaluated before and after RT. The expression of membrane-bound FL and mRNA expression were also defined in circulating blood cells.
* RESULTS: We found a negative correlation between the plasma FL concentration and the number of circulating white blood cells and platelets during RT. Moreover, the overall amount of FL in the blood of patients during RT correlated directly with both the cumulated radiation dose and the proportion of irradiated bone marrow.
* CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrated that the variations in plasma FL concentration directly reflect the radiation-induced bone marrow damage during fractionated local RT. We suggest a possible use for FL monitoring as a means to predict the occurrence of Grade 3-4 leukopenia or thrombocytopenia during the course of RT.