Purpose: As the Fanconi anemia (FA) pathway is required for appropriate cell cycle progression through mitosis and the completion of cell division, the aim of the present study was to determine the destiny of FA cells after irradiation in vitro and to elucidate any difference in radiosensitivity between FA and control cells.
Materials and methods: Analyses of phosphorylated histone H2AX (γ-H2AX) foci, micronuclei formation and cell cycle analysis were performed in unirradiated (0 min) and irradiated primary FA fibroblasts and in a control group at different post-irradiation times (30 min, 2 h, 5 h and 24 h).
Results: The accumulation of γ-H2AX foci in irradiated FA fibroblasts was observed. At 24 h post-irradiation, 57% of FA cells were γ-H2AX foci-positive, significantly higher than in the control (p < 0.01). The cell cycle analysis has shown the transient G2/M arrest in irradiated FA fibroblasts. The portion of cells in the G2/M phase showed initial increase at 30 min post-irradiation and afterwards decreased over time reaching the pretreatment level 24 h after irradiation. Irradiated FA fibroblasts progressed to abnormal mitosis, as is shown by the production of cells with different nuclear morphologies from binucleated to multinucleated surrounded with micronuclei, and also by a high percentage of foci-positive micronuclei. The majority of radiation-induced micronuclei were γ-H2AX foci-positive, indicating that radiation-induced micronuclei contain fragments of damaged chromosomes. In contrast, in the control group, most of the micronuclei were classified as γ-H2AX foci-negative, which indicates that cells with unrepaired damage were blocked before entering mitosis.
Conclusion: The results clearly indicate that mitotic catastrophe might be an important cell-death mechanism involved in the response of FA fibroblasts to ionizing radiation.