A review of human cell radiosensitivity in vitro

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1996 Jan 1;34(1):251-66. doi: 10.1016/0360-3016(95)02029-2.


The survival curves of 694 human cell lines irradiated in exponentially growing phase in vitro were collected from the literature. Among them, 271 were derived from tumors, 423 were nontransformed fibroblasts and other normal cell strains from healthy people or people with some genetic disorders. Seventy-six different cell types are identified, and a specific radiosensitivity could be associated with each, using D and surviving fraction at 2 Gy. Technical factors such as culture medium, feeder cells, and scoring method were found to affect intrinsic radiosensitivity. In particular, the cell type is not a discriminating factor when cells are studied in agar. Results obtained with cells irradiated in agar must be used cautiously, depending on how the cells were prepared for the experiments. The use of feeder cells narrows the range of radiosensitivity of human cells. For cells irradiated as monolayer, it was possible to build a scale of radiosensitivity according to cell type, ranging, in terms of D from 0.6 Gy for the most sensitive cell lines to more than 4 Gy for the most resistant. Considering that, in most cases, we could estimate the variation of radiosensitivity within each cell type, our classification among cell types can be used by researchers to place their results in the context of the literature.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agar
  • Cell Line / physiology
  • Cell Line / radiation effects*
  • Cell Survival
  • Fibroblasts / physiology
  • Fibroblasts / radiation effects
  • Humans
  • Organ Specificity
  • Radiation Tolerance*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / physiology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / radiation effects


  • Agar