The Impact of Hypoxia on Out-of-Field Cell Survival after Exposure to Modulated Radiation Fields

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Advanced radiotherapy techniques such as intensity modulated radiation therapy achieve highly conformal dose distributions within target tumor volumes through the sequential delivery of multiple spatially and temporally modulated radiation fields and have been shown to influence radiobiological response. The goals of this study were to determine the effect of hypoxia on the cell survival responses of different cell models (H460, DU145, A549, MDA231 and FADU) to modulated fields and to characterize the time dependency of signaling under oxic conditions, following reoxygenation and after prolonged hypoxia. Hypoxia was induced by incubating cells at 95% nitrogen and 5% carbon dioxide for 4 h prior to irradiation. The out-of-field response in MDA231 cells was oxygen dependent and therefore selected for co-culture studies to determine the signaling kinetics at different time intervals after irradiation under oxic and hypoxic conditions. Under both oxic and hypoxic conditions, significant increases in cell survival were observed in-field with significant decreases in survival observed out-of-field (P < 0.05), which were dependent on intercellular communication. The in-field response of MDA231 cells showed no significant time dependency up to 24 h postirradiation, while out-of-field survival decreased significantly during the first 6 h postirradiation (P < 0.05). While in-field responses were oxygen dependent, out-of-field effects were observed to be independent of oxygen, with similar or greater cell killing under hypoxic conditions. This study provides further understanding of intercellular signaling under hypoxic conditions and highlights the need for further refinement of established radiobiological models for future applications in advanced radiotherapies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalRadiation Research
Early online date11 Oct 2017
Publication statusEarly online date - 11 Oct 2017


  • Journal Article


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