Bystander responses induced by low LET radiation

Kevin Prise, M. Folkard, B.D. Michael

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


Radiation-induced bystander responses are observed when cells respond to their neighbours being irradiated. Considerable evidence is now available regarding the importance of these responses in cell and tissue models. Most studies have utilized two approaches where either a media-transferable factor has been assessed or cells have been exposed to low fluences of charged particles, where only a few percent are exposed. The development of microbeams has allowed nontargeted responses such as bystander effects to be more carefully analysed. As well as charged particle microbeams, X-ray microprobes have been developed, and several groups are also developing electron microbeams. Using the Gray Cancer Institute soft X-ray microprobe, it has been possible to follow the response of individual cells to targeted low doses of carbon-characteristic soft X-rays. Studies in human fibroblasts have shown evidence of a significant radiation quality-dependent bystander effect, measured as chromosomal damage in the form of micronuclei which is radiation quality dependent. Other studies show that even under conditions when only a single cell is targeted with soft X-rays, significant bystander-mediated cell killing is observed. The observation of bystander responses with low LET radiation suggests that these may be important in understanding radiation risk from background levels of radiation, where cells observe only single electron track traversals. Also, the indirect evidence for these responses in vivo indicates that they may have a role to play in current radiotherapy approaches and future novel strategies involving modulating nontargeted responses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7043-7049
Number of pages7
Issue number45 REV. ISS. 5
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology


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