Role of molecularly-cloned hematopoietic growth factors after acute high-dose radiation exposures

Hillard M. Lazarus, James O. Armitage, Robert Peter Gale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Therapy of acute, high-dose whole-body exposures of humans to ionizing radiations is a complex medical challenge. Since 1944 more than 400 radiologic accidents have been registered with more than 3000 substantial radiation exposures and 127 fatalities. There are several potential interventions including supportive care, transfusions, preventative or therapeutic anti-infection drugs, molecularly-cloned myeloid growth factors and hematopoietic cell transplants. We discuss the use of the granulocyte and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF and GM-CSF) to treat acute high-dose ionizing radiation exposures. Considerable data in experimental models including monkeys indicate use of these drugs accelerates bone marrow recovery and in some but not all instances increases survival. In ten accidents since 1996, 30 victims received G-CSF alone or with other growth factors. Twenty-six victims survived. In seven accidents since 1986, 28 victims received GM-CSF alone or with other growth factors; 18 victims survived. However, absent control or data from randomized trials, it is not possible to know with certainty what role, if any, receiving G-CSF or GM-CSF was of benefit. Given the favorable benefit-to-risk ratio of molecularly-cloned myeloid growth factors, their use soon after exposure to acute, high-dose whole-body ionizing radiations is reasonable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S478-S489
JournalJournal of Radiological Protection
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Acute radiation syndrome
  • Filgrastim
  • G-CSF
  • GM-CSF
  • Hematopoiesis
  • Nuclear
  • Radiological accidents
  • Sargramostim

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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