In advanced radiotherapy, treatment of the tumor with high-intensity modulated fields is balanced with normal tissue sparing. However, the non-target dose delivered to surrounding healthy tissue within the irradiated volume is a potential cause for concern. Whether the effects observed are caused after exposure to out-of-field radiation or bystander effects through neighboring irradiated cells is not fully understood. The goal of this study was to determine the effect of exposure to out-of-field radiation in lymphocyte cell lines and primary blood cells. The role of cellular radiosensitivity in altering bystander responses in out-of-field exposed cells was also investigated. Target cells were positioned in a phantom in the center of the radiation field (in-field dose) and exposed to 2 Gy irradiation. Lymphocyte cell lines (C1, AT3ABR, Jurkat, THP-1, AT2Bi and AT3Bi) and peripheral blood were placed 1 cm away from the radiation field edge (out-of-field dose) and received an average dose of 10.8 ± 4.2 cGy. Double-stranded DNA damage, cell growth and gene expression were measured in the out-of-field cells. Radiosensitive AT3ABR and primary blood cells demonstrated the largest increase in γ-H2AX foci after irradiation. Exposure of normal cells to bystander factors from irradiated radiosensitive cell lines also increased DNA damage. Expression of IL-1, IL-6, TNFα and TGFβ after addition of bystander factors from radiosensitive cells showed differential effects in normally responding cells, with some evidence of an adaptive response observed. Exposure to out-of-field radiation induces DNA damage and reduces growth in radiosensitive cells. Bystander factors produced by directly irradiated cells in combination with out-of-field exposure may upregulate pro- and anti-inflammatory genes in responding cells of different radiosensitivities, with the potential of affecting the tumor microenvironment. A greater understanding of the radio-biological response in normal cells outside the primary treatment field would assist in radiation treatment planning and in reducing early and late toxicities.
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Vol. 191 • No. 6