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The effect of radiation therapy on tumor vasculature has long been a subject of debate. Increased oxygenation and perfusion have been documented during radiation therapy. Conversely, apoptosis of endothelial cells in irradiated tumors has been proposed as a major contributor to tumor control. To examine these contradictions, we use multiphoton microscopy in two murine tumor models: MC38, a highly vascularized, and B16F10, a moderately vascularized model, grown in transgenic mice with tdTomato-labeled endothelium before and after a single (15 Gy) or fractionated (5 × 3 Gy) dose of radiation. Unexpectedly, even these high doses lead to little structural change of the perfused vasculature. Conversely, non-perfused vessels and blind ends are substantially impaired after radiation accompanied by apoptosis and reduced proliferation of their endothelium. RNAseq analysis of tumor endothelial cells confirms the modification of gene expression in apoptotic and cell cycle regulation pathways after irradiation. Therefore, we conclude that apoptosis of tumor endothelial cells after radiation does not impair vascular structure.

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apoptosis, intravital imaging, radiotherapy, tumor endothelial cells, tumor vasculature, Animals, Apoptosis, Endothelial Cells, Endothelium, Mice, Mice, Transgenic, Neoplasms, Radiation, Ionizing