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Radiother Oncol. 1989 May;15(1):103-14.

Misonidazole chemosensitization of EMT6 spheroids to melphalan.

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Department of Therapeutic Radiology, Stanford University School of Medicine, CA 94305.


Nitroaromatic radiosensitizers are effective chemosensitizers in vitro and in vivo. We have used EMT6 tumour cells grown as multicellular spheroids to try and further understand the role that hypoxia plays in this process. Our results show that the cell killing produced in whole spheroids following a 1-h exposure to melphalan (L-PAM) was enhanced by a 3-h pre-exposure to 5 mM misonidazole (MISO), an enhancement ratio of 1.3-1.7 being obtained. Sequentially disaggregating spheroids we also found that both L-PAM toxicity and MISO chemosensitization were relatively constant as a function of depth within the spheroid. The binding of 14C-MISO to spheroid cells, measured by scintillation counting of disaggregated cells and by autoradiography analysis of sectioned spheroids, demonstrated that binding increased with depth. However, cells in the outer layers of the spheroid bound more 14C-MISO than expected with fully aerobic cells, while in the innermost viable cells the binding was less than that measured in cells which were fully radiobiologically hypoxic. This suggests that the majority of viable spheroid cells were at oxygen tensions intermediate between those found in either fully aerobic or radiobiologically hypoxic cells, yet their levels of oxygenation were sufficiently low for MISO chemosensitization to occur.

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