Purpose To investigate whether irradiated human endothelial progenitor cells (hEPC) could induce bystander killing in the A549 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells and help explain the improved radiation-induced tumor cures observed in A549 tumor xenografts co-injected with hEPC. Materials and methods We investigated whether co-injection of CBM3 hEPC with A549 NSCLC cells would alter tumor xenograft growth rate or tumor cure after a single dose of 0 or 5 Gy of X-rays. We then utilized dual chamber Transwell dishes, to test whether medium from irradiated CBM3 and CBM4 hEPC would induce bystander cell killing in A549 cells, and as an additional control, in human pancreatic cancer MIA PaCa-2 cells. The CBM3 and CBM4 hEPC were plated into the upper Transwell chamber and the A549 or MIA PaCa-2 cells were plated in the lower Transwell chamber. The top inserts with the CBM3 or CBM4 hEPC cells were subsequently removed, irradiated, and then placed back into the Transwell dish for 3 h to allow for diffusion of any potential bystander factors from the irradiated hEPC in the upper chamber through the permeable membrane to the unirradiated cancer cells in the lower chamber. After the 3 h incubation, the cancer cells were re-plated for clonogenic survival. Results We found that co-injection of CBM3 hEPC with A549 NSCLC cells significantly increased the tumor growth rate compared to A549 cells alone, but paradoxically also increased A549 tumor cure after a single dose of 5 Gy of X-rays (p < 0.05). We hypothesized that irradiated hEPC may be inducing bystander killing in the A549 NSCLC cells in tumor xenografts, thus improving tumor cure. Bystander studies clearly showed that exposure to the medium from irradiated CBM3 and CBM4 hEPC induced significant bystander killing and decreased the surviving fraction of A549 and MIA PaCa-2 cells to 0.46 (46%) ± 0.22 and 0.74 ± 0.07 (74%) respectively (p < 0.005, p < 0.0001). In addition, antibody depletion studies demonstrated that the bystander killing induced in both A549 and MIA PaCa-2 cells was mediated by the cytokines TNF-α and TGF-β (p < 0.05). Conclusions These data provide evidence that irradiated hEPC can induce strong bystander killing in A549 and MIA PaCa-2 human cancer cells and that this bystander killing is mediated by the cytokines TNF-α and TGF-β.
- A549 NSCLC cells
- bystander effects
- CBM endothelial progenitor cells
- MIA PaCa-2 pancreatic cancer cells
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology