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Br J Cancer. 1978 Nov;38(5):573-82.

Repopulation of gamma-irradiated Lewis lung carcinoma by malignant cells and host macrophage progenitors.


Cellular repopulation in Lewis carcinoma irradiated with 60Co gamma-rays was examined by performing sequential cell-survival estimations using an in vitro soft-agar-colony assay. Following local irradiation (15--35 Gy) two distinct types of colony were seen: compact colonies with tightly packed cells and diffuse colonies with widely dispersed cells. Maximal diffuse colony formation in vitro was only obtained in the simultaneous presence of adequate numbers of compact colonies. After whole-body irradiation only compact colonies were observed. Only-cell survival data from compact colony counts correlated with cell survival estimated by the lung colony assay and we conclude that compact colonies are produced by clonogenic tumour cells. Cytochemical and immunological evidence showed that diffuse colonies were composed of macrophages. After local irradiation the initial kill of clonogenic tumour cells was dose dependent. At each dose level, repopulation began immediately and proceeded with a doubling time of about 1 day. Macrophage colony-forming cells (macrophage progenitors) per tumour were initially reduced by about 3 decades, but recovered very rapidly to reach pretreatment levels within 2 days. We conclude that at least two populations of clonogenic cells are present in Lewis lung carcinoma, tumour cells that repopulate irradiated tumours by in situ proliferation and host-macrophage progenitors that repopulate locally irradiated tumours by infiltration. The hazards of confusing host and tumour cell colonies in in vitro assay systems are stressed.

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