Landsverk, K. S., Lyng, H. and Stokke, T. The Response of Malignant B Lymphocytes to Ionizing Radiation: Cell Cycle Arrest, Apoptosis and Protection against the Cytotoxic Effects of the Mitotic Inhibitor Nocodazole. Radiat. Res. 162, 405–415 (2004).

Ionizing radiation and mitotic inhibitors are used for the treatment of lymphoma. We have studied cell cycle arrest and apoptosis of three human B-lymphocyte cell lines after X irradiation and/or nocodazole treatment. Radiation (4 and 6 Gy) caused arrest in the G2 phase of the cell cycle as well as in G1 in Reh cells with an intact TP53 response. Reh cells, but not U698 and Daudi cells with defects in the TP53 pathway, died by apoptosis after exposure to 4 or 6 Gy radiation (>15% apoptotic Reh cells and <5% apoptotic U698/Daudi cells 24 h postirradiation). Lower doses of radiation (0.5 and 1 Gy) caused a transient delay in the G2 phase of the cell cycle for the three cell lines but did not induce apoptosis (<5% apoptotic cells at 24 h postirradiation). Cells of all three cell lines died by apoptosis after exposure to 1 μg/ml nocodazole, a mitotic blocker that acts by inhibiting the polymerization of tubulin (>25% apoptotic cells after 24 h). When X irradiation with 4 or 6 Gy was performed at the time of addition of nocodazole to U698 and Daudi cells, X rays protected against the apoptosis-inducing effects of the microtubule inhibitor (<5% and 15% apoptotic cells, respectively, 24 h incubation). U698 and Daudi cells apparently have some error(s) in the signaling pathway inducing apoptosis after irradiation, and our results suggest that the arrest in G2 prevents the cells from entering mitosis and from apoptosis in the presence of microtubule inhibitors. This arrest was overcome by caffeine, which caused U698 cells to enter mitosis (after irradiation) and become apoptotic in the presence of nocodazole (26% apoptotic cells, 24 h incubation). These results may have implications for the design of clinical multimodality protocols involving ionizing radiation for the treatment of cancer.

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