Medium-mediated intercellular communication is involved in bystander responses of X-ray-irradiated normal human fibroblasts

Oncogene. 2005 Mar 17;24(12):2096-103. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1208439.


Although radiation-induced bystander effects have been demonstrated in a number of cell types, the studies have largely been performed using high linear energy transfer (LET) radiation, such as alpha-particles. The literature is contradictory on whether fibroblasts show bystander responses, especially after low LET radiation such as X- or gamma-rays and whether the same signal transmission pathways are involved. Herein, a novel transwell insert culture dish method is used to show that X-irradiation induces medium-mediated bystander effects in AGO1522 normal human fibroblasts. The frequency of micronuclei formation in unirradiated bystander cells increases from a background of about 6.5% to about 9-13% at all doses from 0.1 to 10 Gy to the irradiated cells. Induction of p21Waf1 protein and foci of gamma-H2AX in bystander cells is also independent of dose to the irradiated cells above 0.1 Gy. In addition, levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) were increased persistently in directly irradiated cells up to 60 h after irradiation and in bystander cells for 30 h. Adding Cu-Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase to the medium decreases the formation of micronuclei and induction of p21Waf1 and gamma-H2AX foci in bystander cells, suggesting oxidative metabolism plays a role in the signaling pathways in bystander cells. The results of clonogenic assay of bystander cells showed that survival of bystander cells decreases from 0 to 0.5 Gy, and then is independent of the dose to irradiated cells from 0.5 to 10 Gy. Unlike the response with p21Waf1 expression, gamma-H2AX foci and micronuclei, adding SOD and catalase has no effect on the survival of bystander cells. The data suggest that irradiated cells release toxic factors other than ROS into the medium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bystander Effect / radiation effects*
  • Cell Communication / radiation effects*
  • Cell Survival / radiation effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Reference Values
  • X-Rays