Research Papers:

Association of elevated reactive oxygen species and hyperthermia induced radiosensitivity in cancer stem-like cells

Qibin Fu, Tuchen Huang, Xudong Wang, Chunyang Lu, Feng Liu, Gen Yang _, Yugang Wang and Biao Wang

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:101560-101571. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.21678

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Qibin Fu1, Tuchen Huang1, Xudong Wang2, Chunyang Lu2, Feng Liu2, Gen Yang2, Yugang Wang2 and Biao Wang1

1Sino-French Institute of Nuclear Engineering and Technology, Sun Yat-sen University, Zhuhai 519082, P. R. China

2State Key Laboratory of Nuclear Physics and Technology, School of Physics, Peking University, Beijing 100871, P. R. China

Correspondence to:

Gen Yang, email: [email protected]

Biao Wang, email: [email protected]

Keywords: cancer stem-like cells, hyperthermia, radiosensitivity, reactive oxygen species

Received: June 27, 2017     Accepted: September 21, 2017     Published: October 09, 2017


Cancer stem-like cells (CSCs) are the principal causes of tumor radio-resistance, dormancy and recurrence after radiotherapy. Clinical trials show hyperthermia (HT) might be a potent radiation sensitizer. In this study, CSCs were found to be more susceptible to radiation when combined with HT treatment. Treated cells showed significantly reduced self-renewal, cell survival and proliferation in vitro, as well as significant reduced tumor formation in vivo. Further study demonstrated that the radiosensitization effect was associated with increased intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) level in CSCs, confirmed by modifying redox status in CSCs bidirectionally. Pharmacologic depletion of glutathione by buthionine sulphoximine mimicked HT induced radiosensitivity in CSCs. Antioxidant N-acetylcysteine could efficiently rescue HT induced radiosensitivity in CSCs. To our knowledge, this may be the first report suggesting the association between elevated intracellular ROS level and HT induced radiosensitization in human breast CSCs and pancreatic CSCs, which might provide new strategy for improving CSCs radiosensitivity.

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