In vitro evaluation of photon and carbon ion radiotherapy in combination with chemotherapy in glioblastoma cells

Radiat Oncol. 2012 Jan 27:7:9. doi: 10.1186/1748-717X-7-9.


Background: To evaluate the cytotoxic effect of carbon ion radiotherapy and chemotherapy in glioblastoma cells in vitro.

Methods and materials: The human glioblastoma (GBM) cell line U87 was irradiated with photon radiotherapy (RT) doses of 2 Gy, 4 Gy and 6 Gy. Likewise, irradiation with carbon ions was performed with single carbon doses of 0.125, 0.5, 2 and 3 Gy. Four chemotherapeutic substances, camptothecin, gemcitabine, paclitaxel and cisplatinum, were used for single and combination experiments. The assessment of the effect of single and double treatment on cell viability was performed using the clonogenic growth assay representing the radiobiological gold standard.

Results: The RBE of carbon ions ranges between 3.3 and 3.9 depending on survival level and dose. All chemotherapeutic substances showed a clear does-response relationhips. in their characteristic concentrations. For subsequent combination experiments, two dose levels leading to low and medium reduction of cell survival were chosen. Combination experiments showed additive effects independently of the drugs' mechanisms of action. Paclitaxel and campthothecin demonstrated the most prominent cytotoxic effect in combination with carbon ion radiotherapy.

Conclusion: In conclusion, combination of carbon ion radiotherapy with chemotherapies of different mechanisms of action demonstrates additive effects. The most dominant effect was produced by paclitaxel, followed by camptothecin, as espected from previously published work. The present data serve as an important radiobiological basis for further combination experiments, as well as clinical studies on combination treatments.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / pharmacology*
  • Camptothecin / administration & dosage
  • Carbon / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chemoradiotherapy*
  • Cisplatin / administration & dosage
  • Deoxycytidine / administration & dosage
  • Deoxycytidine / analogs & derivatives
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Gemcitabine
  • Glioblastoma / therapy*
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Paclitaxel / administration & dosage
  • Photons / therapeutic use*
  • Tumor Stem Cell Assay


  • Deoxycytidine
  • Carbon
  • Paclitaxel
  • Cisplatin
  • Camptothecin
  • Gemcitabine