Low-dose irradiation of nontransformed cells stimulates the selective removal of precancerous cells via intercellular induction of apoptosis.
Portess DI., Bauer G., Hill MA., O'Neill P.
An important stage in tumorigenesis is the ability of a precancerous cell to escape natural anticancer signals imposed on it by neighboring cells and its microenvironment. We have previously characterized a system of intercellular induction of apoptosis whereby nontransformed cells selectively remove transformed cells from coculture via cytokine and reactive oxygen/nitrogen species (ROS/RNS) signaling. We report that irradiation of nontransformed cells with low doses of either high linear energy transfer (LET) alpha-particles or low-LET gamma-rays leads to stimulation of intercellular induction of apoptosis. The use of scavengers and inhibitors confirms the involvement of ROS/RNS signaling and of the importance of transformed cell NADPH oxidase in the selectivity of the system. Doses as low as 2-mGy gamma-rays and 0.29-mGy alpha-particles were sufficient to produce an observable increase in transformed cell apoptosis. This radiation-stimulated effect saturates at very low doses (50 mGy for gamma-rays and 25 mGy for alpha-particles). The use of transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) neutralizing antibody confirms a role for the cytokine in the radiation-induced signaling. The system may represent a natural anticancer mechanism stimulated by extremely low doses of ionizing radiation.