Elmore, E., Lao, X-Y., Kapadia, R., Giedzinski, E., Limoli, C. and Redpath, J. L. Low Doses of Very Low-Dose-Rate Low-LET Radiation Suppress Radiation-Induced Neoplastic Transformation In Vitro and Induce an Adaptive Response. Radiat. Res. 169, 311–318 (2008).
The purpose of this study was to determine whether adaptation against neoplastic transformation could be induced by exposure to very low-dose-rate low-LET radiation. HeLa × skin fibroblast human hybrid cells were irradiated with ∼30 kVp photons from an array of 125I seeds. The initial dose rate was 4 mGy/day. Cell samples were taken at four intervals at various times over a period of 88 days and assayed for neoplastic transformation and the presence of reactive oxygen species (ROS). The dose rate at the end of this treatment period was 1.4 mGy/day. Transformation frequencies and ROS levels were compared to those of parallel unirradiated controls. At the end of 3 months and an accumulated dose of 216 mGy, cells treated with very low-dose-rate radiation were exposed to a high-dose-rate 3-Gy challenge dose of 137Cs γ rays, and the effects compared with the effect of 3 Gy on a parallel culture of previously unirradiated cells. Cells exposed to very low-dose-rate radiation exhibited a trend toward a reduction in neoplastic transformation frequency compared to the unirradiated controls. This reduction seemed to diminish with time, indicating that the dose rate, rather than accumulated dose, may be the more important factor in eliciting an adaptive response. This pattern was in general paralleled by a reduction of ROS present in the irradiated cultures compared to controls. The very low-dose-rate-treated cells were less sensitive to the high challenge dose than unirradiated controls, suggesting the induction of an adaptive response. Since there was a suggestion of a dose-rate threshold for induction suppression, a second experiment was run with a fresh batch of cells at an initial dose rate of 1 mGy/day. These cells were allowed to accumulate 40 mGy over 46 days (average dose rate = 0.87 mGy/day), and there was no evidence for suppression of transformation frequency compared to parallel unirradiated controls. It is concluded that doses of less than 100 mGy delivered at very low dose rates in the range 1 to 4 mGy/day can induce an adaptive response against neoplastic transformation in vitro. When the dose rate drops below ∼1 mGy/day, this suppression is apparently lost, suggesting a possible dose-rate-dependent threshold for this process.