Cell death after high-LET irradiation in orthotopic human hepatocellular carcinoma in vivo

In Vivo. 2011 Jan-Feb;25(1):1-9.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) represents the sixth most common cancer worldwide and a major health problem since the choice of treatment is limited due to chemo- and radio-resistance. It was previously reported that high linear energy transfer (LET) radiation induced massive autophagic cell death in the human HCC SK-Hep1 cell line in vitro. This study analyzed the effects of high-LET radiation on the same HCC tumor model, orthotopically transplanted into nude mice. For this purpose, after surgical xenograft in the liver, animals were irradiated with fast neutrons and cell death occurring in the tumors was assessed with various techniques, including electron microscopy and probe-based confocal laser endomicroscopy. Results indicate that considerable autophagy and only limited apoptosis took place in the tumor xenografts after high-LET irradiation. These data confirm the previous in vitro results, suggesting that autophagy may act as a predominant mode of cell death in the efficacy of high-LET radiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / radiation effects*
  • Autophagy / radiation effects*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / radiotherapy*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Fast Neutrons
  • Humans
  • Linear Energy Transfer*
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays