Radioprotective effect of mistletoe extract on intestinal toxicity: in vivo study using adult zebrafish

Sunmin Park, Suhyun Kim, Soonil Koun, Hae Chul Park, Won Sup Yoon, Chai Hong Rim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: The intestine is a dose-limiting organ in the treatment of intra-abdominal cancer. We previously reported that the extract of mistletoe parasites on Quercus had a more potent radioprotective effect than amifostine in reducing the developmental toxicities of zebrafish embryos. In this study, radioprotection against intestinal toxicity was investigated in adult zebrafish. Methods: Wild-type adult AB zebrafish were exposed to 45–50 Gy of photon beam irradiation and/or treated with mistletoe extract orally 1 h before. The main endpoints of the study were survival and degree of deformation of the intestinal villi. Results: The median follow-up period was 10 d post-irradiation (range: 7–11 d). A total of 105 zebrafish were used, including 42 in the radiation alone, 42 in the radiation and mistletoe arms, and 21 control subjects (mistletoe alone, mock-irradiated arm). The rate of both significant deformity and death was 53% in the radiation-alone arm, whereas the corresponding rate was 30% in the radiation and mistletoe arms. Significant deformity-free survival rates at 10 d post-irradiation in the radiation alone, and radiation and mistletoe arms were 44.7% (95% confidence interval [CI]:20–54.3) and 68.4% (95% CI:53.8–86.8), respectively (p=.046). The radiation and mistletoe arms showed decreased expression of two of three inflammatory genes (IL-1β and IL-6) compared to the radiation alone group (p<.05). Conclusion: The radioprotective effect against intestinal toxicity was successfully shown in an adult zebrafish model. This result suggests the possibility of clinical use of mistletoe extract for the treatment of abdominal cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)845-852
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the National Research Fund of Korea (NRF-2019M2D2A1A01031560).

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2022 Taylor & Francis Group LLC.


  • Zebrafish
  • mistletoe
  • radioprotectant
  • radiotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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