Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

M. Eng.



Degree Program

JB Speed School of Engineering

Committee Chair

Soucy, Patricia

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Soucy, Kevin

Committee Member

Soucy, Kevin

Committee Member

Gerber, Erin

Author's Keywords

space radiation; heavy iron radiation; ionizing radiation; cardiovascular


Exposure to ionizing radiation is an important medical concern because it can lead to health problems including cancer and cardiovascular issues. In space, astronauts are exposed to ionizing radiation that is not experienced by those who remain on Earth. This radiation can cause health problems such as cardiovascular disease. One way this can happen is through the creation of reactive oxygen species, which can activate TGF-β1, contributing to fibrosis or other cardiovascular problems. Antioxidants can be a potential pharmacological mitigator of these excess reactive oxygen species because of their ability to neutralize reactive oxygen species. One such antioxidant with potential as a mitigator for radiation induced cell and tissue damage is curcumin, but is quickly excreted by the body because it is a hydrophobic molecule with a short half-life. In order to retain therapeutically relevant curcumin levels in the body, curcumin needs to be delivered by a drug delivery vehicle. The work presented here examines mice irradiated with 56Fe radiation, to mimic space radiation. These mice were treated with a drug delivery vehicle containing curcumin or a saline sham prior to radiation. Two weeks after radiation, the mice were sacrificed and the hearts and aortas were studied. To examine the effects of radiation on the mouse cardiovascular system, the tissues were evaluated with an aortic outgrowth assay, ROS assay, Masson’s trichrome staining, hematoxylin and eosin staining, and wall thickness studies. Statistically, the only significant tissue changes from 56Fe radiation were noted in the thickening of the right ventricle and in the reduction of cardiac muscle per nuclei in the hematoxylin and eosin staining also in the right ventricle. The only significant results of the drug treatments were in the reduction of thinning of the left ventricle by the Alb/CCM and CCM treatments. There were trends of thinning of the left ventricle and thickening of the aortas as a results of the 56Fe radiation. There were drug treatment trends with Alb/CCM leading to the largest outgrowth of the aorta and all treatments leading to a reduced thickening of the right ventricle.