Radiogenomics: A systems biology approach to understanding genetic risk factors for radiotherapy toxicity

Catharine West, C Herskind, C E Talbot, Sarah L. Kerns, Marlon R Veldwijk, Barry Rosenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Adverse reactions in normal tissue after radiotherapy (RT) limit the dose that can be given to tumour cells. Since 80% of individual variation in clinical response is estimated to be caused by patient-related factors, identifying these factors might allow prediction of patients with increased risk of developing severe reactions. While inactivation of cell renewal is considered a major cause of toxicity in early-reacting normal tissues, complex interactions involving multiple cell types, cytokines, and hypoxia seem important for late reactions. Here, we review ‘omics’ approaches such as screening of genetic polymorphisms or gene expression analysis, and assess the potential of epigenetic factors, posttranslational modification, signal transduction, and metabolism. Furthermore, functional assays have suggested possible associations with clinical risk of adverse reaction. Pathway analysis incorporating different ‘omics’ approaches may be more efficient in identifying critical pathways than pathway analysis based on single ‘omics’ data sets. Integrating these pathways with functional assays may be powerful in identifying multiple subgroups of RT patients characterised by different mechanisms. Thus ‘omics’ and functional approaches may synergise if they are integrated into radiogenomics ‘systems biology’ to facilitate the goal of individualised radiotherapy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-109
JournalCancer Letters
Issue number1
Early online date2 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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