Irradiation Injury of the Salivary Glands
R. M. Nagler
Dept. of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Oral Biochemistry Laboratory, Rambam Medical Center and Technion Faculty of Medicine, Haifa
Ionizing irradiation of the salivary glands often leads to severe histological and functional alterations. Such exposure usually occurs during radiotherapy in patients with head and neck malignancy. The consequent xerostomia, often life-long, may result from even relatively low dosage irradiation, and causes a great deal of suffering. We suggest a radiobiological mechanism for this phenomenon which has been studied extensively since first described in 1911. The suggested injurious role of redox active transition metal ions and highly destructive free radicals is discussed in relation to the ultimate radiosensitive cellular target, DNA.