The goal of this work was to elucidate the mechanisms of bystander effects outside the localized irradiation field and their potential hematological toxicity. In this study, an in vitro multicellular co-culture system was used to investigate the intercellular commutation and related signaling pathways between either irradiated A549 cells or Beas-2B cells and bystander lymphoblast TK6 cells with or without macrophage U937 cells as an intermediator. Results showed that the proliferation ability of bystander TK6 cells was inhibited after co-culture with A549 cells irradiated with γ rays rather than carbon ions. When macrophages were contained in the co-culture system, the cell viability damage to the bystander TK6 cells were further enhanced. However, the proliferation inhibition of bystander TK6 cells after co-culture with irradiated Beas-2B cells was observed only when intermediator macrophages existed in the cell co-culture system. More serious cell injury was detected after carbon-ion irradiation compared with γ-ray irradiation. The p53-relevant apoptosis pathway was activated in both irradiated A549 and Beas-2B cells, each to a different extent. When the p53 pathway of irradiated cells was inhibited by PFT-α, PFTµ or p53 siRNA, the bystander damage to TK6 cells were clearly alleviated. In conclusion, the bystander lymphoblast damage was induced in different cells using different LET radiations. An amplified bystander response was modulated by the intermediator macrophage. The underlying molecular mechanisms of these bystander effects were dependent on the activation of p53 and its relevant apoptosis pathway in the irradiated cells. These results suggest that the bystander and macrophage-mediated bystander effects contribute to the common acute side effect of lymphocytopenia after local irradiation.
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Vol. 193 • No. 2