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Publication Details

International Journal of Radiation Biology, Vol. 82, 6, 2006, pp.393-399


Purpose: There is now no doubt that bystander signalling from irradiated cells occurs and causes a variety of responses in cells not targeted by the ionising track. However, the mechanisms underlying these processes are unknown and the relevance to radiotherapy and risk assessment remains controversial. Previous research by our laboratory has shown bystander effects in a human keratinocyte cell line, HPV-G cells, exposed to medium from irradiated HPV-G cells. The aim of this work was to investigate if similar mechanisms to those identified in medium transfer experiments occurred in these HPV-G cells when they are in the vicinity of microbeam irradiated cells. Demonstration of a commonality of mechanisms would support the idea that the process is not artifactual. Materials and Methods: HPV-G cells were plated as two separate populations on mylar dishes. One population was directly irradiated using a charged particle microbeam (1 - 10 protons). The other population was not irradiated. Bystander factor induced apoptosis was investigated in both populations following treatment by monitoring the levels of reactive oxygen species and mitochondrial membrane potential using fluorescent probes. Expression of the anti-apoptotic protein, bcl-2, and cytochrome c were determined, as well as apoptosis levels. Results: Microbeam irradiation induced increases in reactive oxygen species and decreases in mitochondrial membrane potential at 6 hours post exposure, increased expression of bcl-2 and cytochrome c release at 6.5 hours and increased apoptosis at 24 hours. Conclusion: This study shows that similar bystander signalling pathways leading to apoptosis are induced following microbeam irradiation and following medium transfer. This demonstrates that the mechanisms involved are common across different radiation qualities and conditions and indicates that they may be relevant in vivo.