Oral mucositis caused by radiation therapy is a common problem in cancer patients, especially those with head and neck cancer. Numerous experimental and clinical studies have attempted to find a drug to alleviate oral mucositis. Sumatriptan, is conventionally used to treat migraine attack and cluster headache. Recently, low doses have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. In this study we aimed to measure the effect of sumatriptan on experimental radiotherapy-induced oral mucositis.
This study evaluates the use of sumatriptan 0.3 and 1 mg/kg in radiation-induced oral mucositis. In order to induce oral mucositis, six rats from each group received 8-Gy of X-ray in a single session. Likewise, three rats from each group received 26-Gy of X-ray. The latter dose of X-ray was used for inducing severe mucositis and apoptosis evaluation by TUNEL assay, while the first dose was used for histopathological and molecular assessments. On 8th day after irradiation, specimens were collected from their tongues for histology, TUNEL and molecular assessments.
Radiation caused mucosal atrophy, derangement of the tissue and vasodilation. Sumatriptan significantly decreased histopathological score and alleviated mucosal atrophy. As well, there was no evidence of vasodilation in the sumatriptan group. Likewise, sumatriptan decreased the increased level of NF-kB and prevented its activation as well as ERK phosphorylation. In addition, Sumatriptan-treated rats had lower tissue level of TNF-α, reactive oxygen species and fewer apoptotic cells in TUNEL assay.
Based on study results, sumatriptan mitigate radiation-induced oral mucositis by inhibiting NF-kB, ERK and limiting the release of TNF-α, oxidative stress factor and apoptosis.

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