In recent years, the use of gold-based nanoparticles in radiotherapy has been extensively studied, and the associated radiosensitization mechanism has been evaluated in a variety of in vitro studies. Given that mitotic catastrophe is widely involved in radiation-induced cell death, we evaluated the effect of gold nanoparticles on this key event. Most of the methods currently used to visualize and quantify morphological changes and multinucleation are manual. To circumvent this time-consuming step, we developed and optimized an image processing workflow (based on freely accessible software and plugins) for the automated quantification of mitotic catastrophes. We validated this approach in three cell lines by comparing the number of radiation-induced mitotic catastrophes detected using the automated and manual methods in the presence and absence of nanoparticles. With the Bland-Altman analysis, the automated and manual counting methods were found to be fully interchangeable. The ultimate goal of this work was to determine whether mitotic catastrophe was critically involved in radiationinduced cell death after prior exposure to gold nanoparticles. In the radioresistant U87 cell line, exposure to gold nanoparticles was associated with a shorter time course for the events related to mitotic catastrophe, which peaked at 96 h postirradiation. Mitotic catastrophe was dose-dependent in both the presence and absence of gold nanoparticles. These results demonstrate that cell exposure to gold nanoparticles led to an increase in mitotic catastrophe events, and confirm the marked radiosensitizing effect observed in clonogenic assays.
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Vol. 192 • No. 1