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Mutat Res. 2012 Mar 1;731(1-2):117-24. doi: 10.1016/j.mrfmmm.2011.12.007. Epub 2011 Dec 21.

Bystander normal human fibroblasts reduce damage response in radiation targeted cancer cells through intercellular ROS level modulation.

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Department of Automatics, Silesian University of Technology, Gliwice, Poland.


The radiation-induced bystander effect is a well-established phenomenon which results in damage in non-irradiated cells in response to signaling from irradiated cells. Since communication between irradiated and bystander cells could be reciprocal, we examined the mutual bystander response between irradiated cells and co-cultured with them non-irradiated recipients. Using a transwell culture system, irradiated human melanoma (Me45) cells were co-cultured with non-irradiated Me45 cells or normal human dermal fibroblasts (NHDF) and vice versa. The frequency of micronuclei and of apoptosis, ROS level, and mitochondrial membrane potential were used as the endpoints. Irradiated Me45 and NHDF cells induced conventional bystander effects detected as modest increases of the frequency of micronuclei and apoptosis in both recipient neighbors; the increase of apoptosis was especially high in NHDF cells co-cultured with irradiated Me45 cells. However, the frequencies of micronuclei and apoptosis in irradiated Me45 cells co-cultured with NHDF cells were significantly reduced in comparison with those cultured alone. This protective effect was not observed when irradiated melanomas were co-cultured with non-irradiated cells of the same line, or when irradiated NHDF fibroblasts were co-cultured with bystander melanomas. The increase of micronuclei and apoptosis in irradiated Me45 cells was paralleled by an increase in the level of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS), which was reduced significantly when they were co-cultured for 24h with NHDF cells. A small but significant elevation of ROS level in NHDF cells shortly after irradiation was also reduced by co-culture with non-irradiated NHDF cells. We propose that in response to signals from irradiated cells, non-irradiated NHDF cells trigger rescue signals, whose nature remains to be elucidated, which modify the redox status in irradiated cells. This inverse bystander effect may potentially have implications in clinical radiotherapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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