There is much evidence supporting the existence of bystander effects in cells that were never exposed to radiation. Directly irradiated cells and bystander cells can communicate with each other using gap junctional intercellular communication or by releasing soluble factors into the surrounding medium. Exosomes and microvesicles are also known to mediate communication between cells. The main aim of this study is to establish whether exosomes and microvesicles are involved in radiation induced bystander signaling. Human keratinocytes, HaCaT cells, were irradiated (0.005, 0.05 and 0.5 Gy) using γ rays produced from a cobalt 60 teletherapy unit. After irradiation, the cells were incubated for 1 h and the irradiated cell conditioned medium (ICCM) was harvested. Exosomes were isolated from the ICCM using ultracentrifugation. Exosomes were characterized using light scattering analysis (LSA) and scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM). Cytotoxicity and reactive oxygen species assays and real time calcium imaging were performed either with ICCM from which exosomes and microvesicles were removed or with the exosome fraction resuspended in cell culture media. The characterization data showed a particle size distribution indicative of both exosomes (30–100 nm) and microvesicles (>100 nm) and the light scattering analysis showed increased concentration of both exosomes and microvesicles with increasing dose. Western blotting confirmed the presence of an exosomal protein marker, TSG 101. Treatment of unirradiated cells with ICCM in which exosomes and microvesicles were removed resulted in abrogation of ICCM induced effects such as reduction in viability, calcium influx and production of reactive oxygen species. Addition of exosomes to fresh media produced similar effects to complete ICCM. These results suggest a role for exosomes and microvesicles in radiation induced bystander signaling.
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Vol. 181 • No. 2