Daşu, A. and Denekamp, J. Inducible Repair and Intrinsic Radiosensitivity: A Complex but Predictable Relationship?

Two groups have proposed a simple linear relationship between inducible radioresistance in a variety of mammalian cells and their intrinsic radiosensitivity at 2 Gy (Lambin et al., Int.J. Radiat. Biol. 69, 279–290, 1996; Alsbeih and Raaphorst, unpublished results, 1997). The inducible repair response (IRR) is quantified as a ratio, αSR, i.e. the slope in the hypersensitive low-dose region, αS, relative to the αR term of the classical linear-quadratic formula. These proposals imply that the intrinsic radiosensitivity at clinically relevant doses is directly linked to the cell’s ability to mount an adaptive response as a result of exposure to very low doses of radiation. We have re-examined this correlation and found that the more extensive data set now available in the literature does not support the contention of a simple linear relationship. The two parameters are correlated, but by a much more complex relationship. A more logical fit is obtained with a log-linear equation. A series of log-linear curves are needed to describe the correlation between IRR and SF2, because of the spectrum of α/β ratios among the cell lines and hence the confounding effect of the β term at a dose of 2 Gy. The degree of repair competence before irradiation starts could also be a major factor in the apparent magnitude of the amount of repair induced. There appears to be a systematic difference in the data sets from different series of cell lines that have been obtained using flow cytometry techniques in the laboratory in Vancouver and using dynamic microscope imaging at the Gray Laboratory. We suggest that the use of a brief exposure to a laser beam in flow cytometry before the cells are irradiated might itself partially induce a stress response and change the DNA repair capacity of the cells. The clinical consequences of the relationship for predicting the benefits of altered fractionation schedules are discussed.

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