Effects of hyperthermia on DNA repair pathways: one treatment to inhibit them all

Radiat Oncol. 2015 Aug 7;10:165. doi: 10.1186/s13014-015-0462-0.


The currently available arsenal of anticancer modalities includes many DNA damaging agents that can kill malignant cells. However, efficient DNA repair mechanisms protect both healthy and cancer cells against the effects of treatment and contribute to the development of drug resistance. Therefore, anti-cancer treatments based on inflicting DNA damage can benefit from inhibition of DNA repair. Hyperthermia - treatment at elevated temperature - considerably affects DNA repair, among other cellular processes, and can thus sensitize (cancer) cells to DNA damaging agents. This effect has been known and clinically applied for many decades, but how heat inhibits DNA repair and which pathways are targeted has not been fully elucidated. In this review we attempt to summarize the known effects of hyperthermia on DNA repair pathways relevant in clinical treatment of cancer. Furthermore, we outline the relationships between the effects of heat on DNA repair and sensitization of cells to various DNA damaging agents.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • DNA Damage / drug effects
  • DNA Damage / physiology*
  • DNA Repair / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hyperthermia, Induced*
  • Neoplasms / therapy


  • Antineoplastic Agents