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Int J Hyperthermia. 2006 May;22(3):191-6.

Cell biological effects of hyperthermia alone or combined with radiation or drugs: a short introduction to newcomers in the field.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Section of Radiation & Stress Cell Biology, University of Groningen, UMCG, Groningen, The Netherlands.


Hyperthermia results in protein unfolding that, if not properly chaperoned by Heat Shock Proteins (HSP), can lead to irreversible and toxic protein aggregates. Elevating HSP prior to heating makes cells thermotolerant. Hyperthermia also can enhance the sensitivity of cells to radiation and drugs. This sensitization to drugs or radiation is not directly related to altered HSP expression. However, altering HSP expression before heat and radiation or drug treatment will affect the extent of thermal sensitization because the HSP will attenuate the heat-induced protein damage that is responsible for radiation- or drug-sensitization. For thermal radiosensitization, nuclear protein damage is considered to be responsible for hyperthermic effects on DNA repair, in particular base excision repair. Hyperthermic drug sensitization can be seen for a number of anti-cancer drugs, especially of alkylating agents. Synergy between heat and drugs may arise from multiple events such as heat damage to ABC transporters (drug accumulation), intra-cellular drug detoxification pathways and repair of drug-induced DNA adducts. This may be why cells with acquired drug resistance (often multi-factorial) can be made responsive to drugs again by combining the drug treatment with heat.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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