The kinetics of the repair and fixation of potentially lethal damage (PLD) was studied in log-phase Chinese hamster V79 cells. The postirradiation (10 Gy) survival of cells treated with hypertonic saline increased when these cells were incubated further in conditioned medium but not in growth medium, indicating that damage which is neither fixed by hypertonic saline nor amenable to repair in growth medium is nonetheless repaired in conditioned medium. Recovery of X-irradiated cells incubated in growth medium or in conditioned medium was maximal by about 70 min and was two times higher in conditioned medium than in growth medium. Cells incubated in growth medium for 70-120 min postirradiation continued to repair damage when subsequently shifted to conditioned medium and attained the same survival as that of cells in conditioned medium only. Thus PLD is not fixed by the time the recovery plateau has been attained in growth medium, and this unfixed PLD can still be repaired when cells are shifted to conditioned medium. To study the kinetics of fixation of PLD (without hypertonic saline), the survival of cells incubated in growth medium for up to 9 h postirradiation was compared with that for cells incubated in growth medium for different times followed by incubation in conditioned medium. These results show that the damage was neither fixed nor misrepaired in growth medium but rather remained unrepaired for up to 2 h, and that damage fixation in growth medium does not begin until after 2 h and is completed by 6 h postirradiation.

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