Basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) inhibits radiation-induced apoptosis, and radioprotects haematopoietic, cartilage growth plate, pulmonary and gastrointestinal tissues. Conversely, chronic overexpression of bFGF may promote fibrosis. We measured the endogenous circulating bFGF in blood of patients undergoing conditioning TBI. Twenty-six patients with haematopoietic malignancies were conditioned with phosphamide/TBI for allogeneic BMT. Daily samples were collected each morning prior to, during, and for several days after TBI. bFGF levels in plasma of normal volunteers are 0.8-26 pg/ml. bFGF was below detectability in 22%, 30% and 45% of patients pre-TBI, during TBI or post-TBI respectively. Mean circulating plasma levels of bFGF decreased from a median of 52 pg/ml pre-TBI to 26 pg/ml during TBI, and to 5 pg/ml post-TBI. Among the 26 patients, 13 had more than one non-detectable plasma bFGF level, an additional five had at least one non-detectable level, and only eight patients had detectable levels in all daily samples. Naturally high levels of bFGF were observed in some patients undergoing fractionated TBI. In contrast, as many as 79% of patients had low bFGF levels in one or more samples. The impact of endogenous bFGF on the tolerance of normal tissues to irradiation is unknown, and warrants further study.
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