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Br J Cancer. 1988 Sep;58(3):296-300.

Characterization of radiation resistant hypoxic cell subpopulations in KHT sarcomas. (II). Cell sorting.

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Experimental Therapeutics Division, University of Rochester Cancer Center, New York 14642.


Hypoxic cells in KHT sarcomas were characterized using fluorescence activated cell sorting based on the diffusion properties of the fluorochrome Hoechst 33342. Tumour-bearing female C3H/HeJ mice were injected i.v. with 10 micrograms g-1 Hoechst 33342 and the cells derived from the tumours sorted on the basis of their staining intensities. For each sorted fraction the DNA histogram was evaluated using FCM analysis. The results indicated that the bright and dim cells were not equally distributed about the cell cycle. For example, a greater proportion of S phase cells were in the bright subpopulations whereas the dim subpopulations contained an increased proportion of cells in G1. When the tumours were irradiated with a single dose of radiation prior to cell sorting, the dim cells survived preferentially. Dose response curves for the 20% most dim and 20% most bright cells, sorted on the basis of fluorescence intensity, then were determined. The survival curves of the dim and bright cells were found to have slopes similar to those of KHT cells irradiated in situ in dead animals or in vitro under fully oxic conditions, respectively. In addition, when KHT sarcoma-bearing mice were given a 2.5 mmol kg-1 dose of misonidazole (MISO) prior to irradiation and cell sorting, the dim subpopulation was sensitized whereas the bright subpopulation was not. These findings suggest that (i) compared to well-oxygenated areas, hypoxic regions of KHT tumours contain a smaller percentage of cells actively proliferating and (ii) Hoechst 33342 sorting may allow the detailed in situ evaluation of agents acting directly against hypoxic cells in solid tumours.

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