Development of single nanometer-sized ultrafine oxygen bubbles to overcome the hypoxia-induced resistance to radiation therapy via the suppression of hypoxia-inducible factor‑1α

Int J Oncol. 2018 Mar;52(3):679-686. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2018.4248. Epub 2018 Jan 18.


Radiation therapy can result in severe side-effects, including the development of radiation resistance. The aim of this study was to validate the use of oxygen nanobubble water to overcome resistance to radiation in cancer cell lines via the suppression of the hypoxia-inducible factor 1-α (HIF‑1α) subunit. Oxygen nanobubble water was created using a newly developed method to produce nanobubbles in the single-nanometer range with the ΣPM-5 device. The size and concentration of the oxygen nanobubbles in the water was examined using a cryo-transmission electron microscope. The nanobubble size was ranged from 2 to 3 nm, and the concentration of the nanobubbles was calculated at 2x1018 particles/ml. Cell viability and HIF-1α levels were evaluated in EBC‑1 lung cancer and MDA‑MB‑231 breast cancer cells treated with or without the nanobubble water and radiation under normoxic and hypoxic conditions in vitro. The cancer cells grown in oxygen nanobubble-containing media exhibited a clear suppression of hypoxia-induced HIF‑1α expression compared to the cells grown in media made with distilled water. Under hypoxic conditions, the EBC‑1 and MDA‑MB231 cells displayed resistance to radiation compared to the cells cultured under normoxic cells. The use of oxygen nanobubble medium significantly suppressed the hypoxia-induced resistance to radiation compared to the use of normal medium at 2, 6, 10 and 14 Gy doses. Importantly, the use of nanobubble media did not affect the viability and radiation sensitivity of the cancer cell lines, or the non‑cancerous cell line, BEAS‑2B, under normoxic conditions. This newly created single-nanometer range oxygen nanobubble water, without any additives, may thus prove to be a promising agent which may be used to overcome the hypoxia-induced resistance of cancer cells to radiation via the suppression of HIF-1α.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Hypoxia / drug effects*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Oxygen / administration & dosage*
  • Oxygen / chemistry
  • Radiation Tolerance / drug effects*
  • Water / chemistry


  • HIF1A protein, human
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • Water
  • Oxygen