Shankar, B., Santosh Kumar, S. and Sainis, K. B. Generation of Reactive Oxygen Species and Radiation Response in Lymphocytes and Tumor Cells. Radiat. Res. 160, 478–487 (2003).
Several types of lymphoid and myeloid tumor cells are known to be relatively resistant to radiation-induced apoptosis compared to normal lymphocytes. The intracellular generation of reactive oxygen species was measured in irradiated spleen cells from C57BL/6 and BALB/c mice and murine tumor cells (EL-4 and P388) by flow cytometry using dichlorodihydrofluoresceindiacetate and dihydrorhodamine 123 as fluorescent probes. The amount of reactive oxygen species generated per cell was low in the tumor cells compared to spleen cells exposed to 1 to 10 Gy of γ radiation. This could be due to the higher total antioxidant levels in tumor cells compared to normal cells. Further, the changes in mitochondrial membrane potential and cytoplasmic Ca2 content were appreciable in lymphocytes even at a dose of 1 Gy. In EL-4 cells, no such changes were observed at any of the doses used. About 65% of spleen cells underwent apoptosis 24 h after 1 Gy irradiation. However, under the same conditions, EL-4 and P388 cells failed to undergo apoptosis, but they accumulated in G2/M phase. Thus the intrinsic radioresistance of tumor cells may be due to a decreased generation of reactive oxygen species after irradiation and down-regulation of the subsequent events leading to apoptosis.