Study sheds light on combined radiation injury from nuclear disaster

Researchers from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine announced on October 1 new insights into the phenomenon called combined radiation injury.

The researchers' study found that CRI can cause the intestines to leak bacteria into surrounding areas. It also found that radiation, along with burns, have a kind of synergistic energy that makes them more deadly when working in tandem.

"The use of nuclear technology and the potential for its implementation in warfare and terrorism highlight the importance of this study. . . " Elizabeth Kovacs and Stewart Carter, the authors of the paper, said. "Insight into the effects of combined radiation injury on the gut will help direct management of survivors of nuclear disaster."

The study, published in the October issue of the journal Shock, looked at the intestines and radiation, and found that while cells are usually held together by "tight junctions," radiation damage can kill these areas and allow for bacterial products to leak out of the intestine. The CRI effect triggered 100 times greater leakage of bacteria than seen in control groups who were only exposed to radiation.

"To our knowledge, we are the first to present gastrointestinal findings of this nature in any CRI model, with the exception of early studies on CRI in the 1960s," Kovacs and Carter said. "We hope we never will have to respond to a nuclear disaster. But if such a disaster were to occur, our findings could be part of our preparedness."