Direct evidence for a bystander effect of ionizing radiation in primary human fibroblasts

O.V. Belyakov, A.M. Malcolmson, M. Folkard, Kevin Prise, B.D. Michael

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189 Citations (Scopus)


Bystander responses underlie some of the current efforts to develop gene therapy approaches for cancer treatment. Similarly, they may have a role in strategies to treat tumours with targeted radioisotopes. In this study we show direct evidence for the production of a radiation-induced bystander response in primary human fibroblasts, We utilize a novel approach of using a charged-particle microbeam, which allows individual cells within a population to be selected and targeted with counted charged particles. Individual primary human fibroblasts within a population of 600-800 cells were targeted with between 1 and 15 helium ions (effectively, alpha -particles). The charged particles were delivered through the centre of the nucleus with an accuracy of +/- 2 mum and a detection and counting efficiency of greater than 99%. When scored 3 days later, even though only a single cell had been targeted, typically an additional 80-100 damaged cells were observed in the surviving population of about 5000 cells. The yield of damaged cells was independent of the number of charged particles delivered to the targeted cell, Similar results of a 2-3-fold increase in the background level of damage present in the population were observed whether 1 or 4 cells were targeted within the dish. Also, when 200 cells within one quadrant of the dish were exposed to radiation, there was a 2-3-fold increase in the damage level in an unexposed quadrant of the dish, This effect was independent of the presence of serum in the culture medium and was only observed when a cell was targeted, but not when only the medium was exposed, confirming that a cell-mediated response is involved. (C) 2001 Cancer Research Campaign.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)674-679
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 02 Mar 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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