Low dose-rate irradiation with [ 3 H]-labelled valine to selectively target hypoxic cells in a human colorectal cancer xenograft model

Acta Oncol. 2018 Sep;57(9):1216-1224. doi: 10.1080/0284186X.2018.1457223. Epub 2018 Apr 9.


Background: Earlier in vitro studies show that irradiation with an ultra-low dose-rate of 15 mGy/h delivered with [3H]-valine leads to loss of clonogenicity in hypoxic T-47D cells. Here, the aim was to determine if [3H]-valine could be used to deliver low dose-rate irradiation in a colorectal cancer model.

Methods: Clonogenicity was measured in cultured cancer cell line HT29 irradiated with 15 mGy/h combined with intermittent hypoxia. Mice with HT29 xenografts were irradiated by repeated injections of [3H]-valine intravenously. The activity in the tumor tissue was measured by scintillation counting and tumor growth, hypoxic fraction and tritium distribution within tumors were assessed by pimonidazole staining and autoradiography.

Results: Ultra-low dose-rate irradiation decreased clonogenicity in hypoxic colorectal cancer cells. In vivo, the tumor growth, hypoxic fraction and weight of the mice were similar between the treated and untreated group. Autoradiography showed no [3H]-valine uptake in hypoxic tumor regions in contrast to aerobic tissue.

Conclusion: Continuous low-dose-rate irradiation was well tolerated by aerobic tissue. This indicates a potential use of low dose-rate irradiation to target hypoxic tumor cells in combination with high dose-rate irradiation to eradicate the well oxygenated tumor regions. However, [3H]-valine is not the appropriate method to deliver ultra-low dose-rate irradiation in vivo.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / radiation effects
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • HT29 Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Tritium / therapeutic use*
  • Tumor Hypoxia / radiation effects*
  • Valine / chemistry
  • Valine / therapeutic use*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Tritium
  • Valine