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Radiation almost uniformly promotes autophagy in tumor cells. While radiation-induced autophagy often serves as a protective function in cell culture studies, it is currently uncertain to what extent autophagy might be induced by radiation in human malignancies; it is furthermore unknown whether autophagy induced by radiation can or should be suppressed for therapeutic benefit. Current clinical trials combining chemotherapeutic drugs or radiation therapy with chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine as autophagy inhibitors may be premature without the benefit of stratification to identify patients whose malignancies might be susceptible to autophagy inhibition as a therapeutic strategy. In addition, there are also concerns as to whether chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, the agents currently in use, have the capacity to suppress autophagy when administered systemically at tolerable doses. Finally, any agent that actually has the appropriate pharmacokinetic profile to function as a systemic autophagy inhibitor may collaterally disrupt the homeostatic function of autophagy in normal cells.
The assumption of a linear dose response used to describe the biological effects of high-LET radiation is fundamental in radiation protection methodologies. We investigated the dose response for chromosomal aberrations for exposures corresponding to less than one particle traversal per cell nucleus by high-energy charged (HZE) nuclei. Human fibroblast and lymphocyte cells were irradiated with several low doses of <0.1 Gy, and several higher doses of up to 1 Gy with oxygen (77 keV/μm), silicon (99 keV/μm) or Fe (175 keV/μm), Fe (195 keV/μm) or Fe (240 keV/μm) particles. Chromosomal aberrations at first mitosis were scored using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) with chromosome specific paints for chromosomes 1, 2 and 4 and DAPI staining of background chromosomes. Nonlinear regression models were used to evaluate possible linear and nonlinear dose-response models based on these data. Dose responses for simple exchanges for human fibroblasts irradiated under confluent culture conditions were best fit by nonlinear models motivated by a nontargeted effect (NTE). The best fits for dose response data for human lymphocytes irradiated in blood tubes were a linear response model for all particles. Our results suggest that simple exchanges in normal human fibroblasts have an important NTE contribution at low-particle fluence. The current and prior experimental studies provide important evidence against the linear dose response assumption used in radiation protection for HZE particles and other high-LET radiation at the relevant range of low doses.
Cesium-137 is a radionuclide of concern in fallout from reactor accidents or nuclear detonations. When ingested or inhaled, it can expose the entire body for an extended period of time, potentially contributing to serious health consequences ranging from acute radiation syndrome to increased cancer risks. To identify changes in gene expression that may be informative for detecting such exposure, and to begin examining the molecular responses involved, we have profiled global gene expression in blood of male C57BL/6 mice injected with 137CsCl. We extracted RNA from the blood of control or 137CsCl-injected mice at 2, 3, 5, 20 or 30 days after exposure. Gene expression was measured using Agilent Whole Mouse Genome Microarrays, and the data was analyzed using BRB-ArrayTools. Between 466–6,213 genes were differentially expressed, depending on the time after 137Cs administration. At early times (2–3 days), the majority of responsive genes were expressed above control levels, while at later times (20–30 days) most responding genes were expressed below control levels. Numerous genes were overexpressed by day 2 or 3, and then underexpressed by day 20 or 30, including many Tp53-regulated genes. The same pattern was seen among significantly enriched gene ontology categories, including those related to nucleotide binding, protein localization and modification, actin and the cytoskeleton, and in the integrin signaling canonical pathway. We compared the expression of several genes three days after 137CsCl injection and three days after an acute external gamma-ray exposure, and found that the internal exposure appeared to produce a more sustained response. Many common radiation-responsive genes are altered by internally administered 137Cs, but the gene expression pattern resulting from continued irradiation at a decreasing dose rate is extremely complex, and appears to involve a late reversal of much of the initial response.
An interesting problem associated with studying the effects of low doses of high atomic number and energy (HZE) particles, as found in space, is that not all cells will necessarily be similarly traversed during exposure, a scenario that greatly complicates the measurement of end points that require time to develop, gene-locus mutation being a perfect example. The standard protocol for measuring mutations at the heterozygous thymidine kinase locus in human lymphoblastoid cells involves waiting three days after treatment for newly induced mutants to fully express, at which time cells are then plated in the presence of the selective agent, and mutants are counted three weeks later. This approach is acceptable as long as all cells are uniformly affected, as is the case with low-linear energy transfer (LET) ionizing radiation. However, for HZE particles some fraction of cells may not be traversed or perhaps would receive fewer than the average number of “hits”, and they would continue to grow at or closer to the normal rate, thus outpacing cells that received more damage. As a result, at three days post-treatment, more heavily damaged cells will have been “diluted” by the less damaged ones, and thus the measured mutant frequency (MF) will underestimate actual mutant frequency. We therefore developed a modified approach for measuring mutation that eliminates this problem and demonstrates that the mutagenicity of 1 GeV/n Fe ions are underestimated by a factor of two when using the standard MF protocol. Furthermore, we determined the mutagenic effects of a variety of heavy ions, all of which induced mutations in a linear fashion. We found that the maximal yield of mutations (i.e., highest relative biological efficiency) was about 7.5 times higher at an LET of 70 keV/μ (400 MeV/n Si) than for gamma rays. Nontargeted mutagenicity after treatment with ionizing radiation was also investigated. For each particular ion/energy examined and in agreement with many previous studies, there was no clear evidence of a dose response for bystander mutagenesis, i.e., the MF plateaued. Interestingly, the magnitudes of the bystander MFs induced by different ion/energy combinations did vary, with bystander MFs ranging from 0.8 to 2.2× higher than the background. Furthermore, the nontargeted MFs appeared to reflect a mirror image of that for direct mutagenesis.
Microdosimetric spectra of single event distributions have been used to provide estimates of quality factors for radiation protection of high-LET radiation. In situations with high-dose rates it becomes difficult to measure, record and store energy deposition from single events. An alternative approach is to store random energy deposition events in a sequence of fixed time intervals that does not require identifying from single events. This can be accomplished with a single detector without pulse height analysis. We show the development of the algorithm using expectation analysis of the statistical estimators for moments of lineal energy: ȳf and ȳD. The method was tested using Monte Carlo simulations based on single event distributions measured with spherical tissue equivalent proportional counters where the event sizes spanned more than two orders of magnitude. The evaluation included testing at various mean numbers of events per interval (i.e., dose rate) and numbers of intervals (i.e., total duration). Results of the expectation analysis and Monte Carlo simulation showed that the algorithm corrects for the excess dispersion due to the random number of events in each time interval when the underlying dose rate is constant. It also converges to the correct value when there is a linear trend in dose rate of the duration of the measurement process. Although this system is not applicable for pulsed radiation fields it proved to be robust when applied to measured distributions with single event spectra (PuBe neutrons, Fe ions at 1,000 MeV/nucleon and a power function distribution of single event sizes) with a coefficient of variation of 25% for estimates of ȳD using 100 sampling intervals and 10% using 400 sampling intervals.
Although it is known that cancer cells can develop radiation resistance after repeated exposures to X rays, the underlying mechanisms and characteristics of this radiation-induced resistance of cancer cells are not well understood. Additionally, it is not known whether cells that develop X-ray resistance also would develop resistance to other types of radiation such as heavy-ions including carbon ions (C-ion). In this study, we established X-ray resistant cancer cell lines by delivering repeated exposures to X rays, and then assessed whether the cells were resistant to carbon ions. The mouse squamous cell carcinoma cell line, NR-S1, was X irradiated six times with 10 Gy, and the X-ray resistant cancer cells named X60 and ten subclones were established. Significant X-ray resistance was induced in four of the subclones (X60, X60-H2, X60-A3 and X60-B12). The X60 cells and all of the subclones were resistant to carbon ions. The correlation analysis between radioresistance and morphological characteristics of these cells showed that X-ray (R = 0.74) and C-ion (R = 0.79) resistance correlated strongly with the number of heterochromatin domains. Moreover, the numbers of γ-H2AX foci remaining in irradiated X60 cells and radioresistant subclones X60-A3 and X60-H2 were lower than in the NR-S1 cells after X-ray or C-ion irradiation, indicating that X60 cells and the radioresistant subclones rapidly repaired the DNA double-strand breaks compared with NR-S1 cells. Our findings suggest that the underlying causal mechanisms of X-ray and C-ion radiation resistance may overlap, and that an increase in heterochromatin domain number may be an indicator of X-ray and C-ion resistance.
Cellular quiescence is a reversible growth arrest in which cells retain their ability to enter into and exit from the proliferative cycle. This study investigates the hypothesis that cell growth-state specific oxidative stress response regulates radiosensitivity of cancer cells. Results showed that quiescent (low proliferative index; >75% G1 phase and lower RNA content) Cal27 and FaDu human head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) are radioresistant compared to proliferating cells. Quiescent cells exhibited a three to tenfold increase in mRNA levels of Mn-superoxide dismutase (MnSOD), dual oxidase 2 (DUOX2) and dual-specificity phosphatase 1 (DUSP1), while mRNA levels of catalase (CAT), peroxiredoxin 3 (PRDX3) and C-C motif ligand 5 (CCL5) were approximately two to threefold lower compared to proliferating cells. mRNA levels of forkhead box M1 (FOXM1) showed the largest decrease in quiescent cells at approximately 18-fold. Surprisingly, radiation treatment resulted in a distinct gene expression pattern that is specific to proliferating and quiescent cells. Specifically, FOXM1 expression increased two to threefold in irradiated quiescent cells, while the same treatment had no net effect on FOXM1 mRNA expression in proliferating cells. RNA interference and pharmacological-based downregulation of FOXM1 abrogated radioresistance of quiescent cells. Furthermore, radioresistance of quiescent cells was associated with an increase in glucose consumption and expression of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD). Knockdown of FOXM1 resulted in a significant decrease in G6PD expression, and pharmacological-inhibition of G6PD sensitized quiescent cells to radiation. Taken together, these results suggest that targeting FOXM1 may overcome radioresistance of quiescent HNSCC.
Estimates of genetic risks from radiation delivered to humans are derived largely from mouse studies. In males, the target is spermatogonia and a large amount of information is available. In contrast, in females, immature oocytes are the target, but extrapolations from mice to humans are not very definitive because immature mouse oocytes are highly sensitive to radiation and die by apoptosis, which is not the case in humans. Since mouse offspring derived from surviving immature oocytes have to date not shown any signs of mutation induction, two alternative hypotheses are proposed: 1. Apoptotic death effectively eliminates damaged oocytes in mice and therefore human immature oocytes may be highly mutable; and 2. Immature oocytes are inherently resistant to mutation induction and apoptotic death is not relevant to mutagenesis. To test these hypotheses, rat immature oocytes, which are not as sensitive as those in mice to radiation-induced apoptosis were exposed to 2.5 Gy of gamma rays and the offspring were examined using a two-dimensional DNA analysis method. Screening of a total of 2.26 million DNA fragments, we identified 32 and 18 mutations in the control and exposed groups, respectively. Of these, in the two groups, 29 and 14 mutations were microsatellite mutations, two and one were base changes, and one and three were deletions. Among the four deletions most relevant to radiation exposure, only one was possibly derived from the irradiated dam (but not determined) and three were paternal in origin. Although the number of mutations was small, the results appear to support the second hypothesis and indicate that immature oocytes are generally less sensitive than mature oocytes to mutation induction.
Female Wistar rats, from an age of 14 days to 19 months, were exposed in the head region for 2 h per day, 5 days per week, to a GSM-modulated 900 MHz radiofrequency electromagnetic field (RF-EMF). The average specific absorption rates (SAR) in the brain were 0 (sham), 0.7, 2.5 and 10 W/kg. To ensure a primary exposure of the head region, rats were fixed in restraining tubes of different sizes according to their increasing body weight. During the experiment, a set of 4 behavioral and learning tests (rotarod, Morris water maze, 8-arm radial maze, open field) were performed 3 times in juvenile, adult and presenile rats. In these tests, no profound differences could be identified between the groups. Only presenile rats of the cage control group showed a lower activity in two of these tests compared to the other groups presumably due to the lack of daily handling. The rotarod data revealed on some testing days significantly longer holding times for the sham-exposed rat vs. the exposed rat, but these findings were not consistent. During the first year, body weights of sham-exposed and exposed rats were not different from those of the cage controls, and thereafter only marginally lower, so that the effect of stress as confounder was probably negligible. The results of this study do not indicate harmful effects of long-term RF-EMF exposure even when begun at an early age on subsequent development, learning skills and behavior in rats, even at relatively high SAR values.
Potentially lethal damage (PLD) repair has been defined as that property conferring the ability of cells to recover from DNA damage depending on the postirradiation environment. Using a novel cyclin dependent kinase 1 inhibitor RO-3306 to arrest cells in the G2 phase of the cell cycle, examined PLD repair in G2 in cultured Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells. Several CHO-derived DNA repair mutant cell lines were used in this study to elucidate the mechanism of DNA double-strand break repair and to examine PLD repair during the G2 phase of the cell cycle. While arrested in G2 phase, wild-type CHO cells displayed significant PLD repair and improved cell survival compared with cells released immediately from G2 after irradiation. Both the radiation-induced chromosomal aberrations and the delayed entry into mitosis were also reduced by G2-holding PLD recovery. The PLD repair observed in G2 was observed in nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) mutant cell lines but absent in homologous recombination mutant cell lines. From the survival curves, G2-NHEJ mutant cell lines were found to be very sensitive to gamma-ray exposure when compared to G2/homologous recombination mutant cell lines. Our findings suggest that after exposure to ionizing radiation during G2, NHEJ is responsible for the majority of non-PLD repair, and conversely, that the homologous recombination is responsible for PLD repair in G2.
Ionizing radiation kills cells mainly due to the generation of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). High-linear energy transfer (LET) ionizing radiation induces more cell death and generates a higher relative biological effect (RBE) than low-LET ionizing radiation (such as X or γ ray). Although it is known that interference with the Ku-dependent nonhomologous ending-joining (NHEJ) pathway appears to be the major cause of iron-ion- and carbon-ion-induced cell death, it remains unclear whether other ions with a similar or different LET and higher RBE in terms of cell killing are controlled in the same way. In this study, we compared the clonogenic survival frequency of Ku80 / (NHEJ-proficient) and Ku80−/− (NHEJ-deficient) cells after exposure to iron (175 keV/μm), silicon (75 keV/μm), oxygen (25 keV/μm) and X ray (low-LET). The results showed that Ku80−/− cells had the same RBE value of 1 for cell killing for all types of ionizing radiation, whereas Ku80 / cells had different RBE values for cell killing that depended on the specific type of ionizing radiation. The results indicate that the Ku-dependent NHEJ is the major repair pathway that heavier ions interfere with, resulting in higher RBE for cell killing. These results provide useful information for followup studies that will focus on improving high-LET protection or heavier ion radiotherapy in the near future.