Author(s): Ostruszka LJ, Shewach DS
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Abstract Gemcitabine (2',2'-difluoro-2'-deoxycytidine; dFdCyd) has been shown to be a potent radiosensitizer in tumor cells both in vitro and in vivo. We evaluated the ability of dFdCyd to enhance the radiosensitivity of two human glioblastoma cell lines. The results demonstrated that U251 cells were more sensitive to the cytotoxicity of dFdCyd, and that dFdCyd was able to radiosensitize these cells. In contrast, D54 cells were more resistant to the cytotoxic effect of dFdCyd, and no radiosensitization occurred at any concentration of dFdCyd tested. Because radiosensitization by dFdCyd has been correlated with its ability to deplete dATP pools through inhibition of ribonucleotide reductase by dFdCyd diphosphate, we evaluated the metabolism of dFdCyd in both cell lines. At equitoxic concentrations of dFdCyd, both cell lines accumulated similar levels of the cytotoxic metabolite, dFdCyd triphosphate, as well as similar levels of dFdCyd monophosphate in DNA. In U251 cells, radiosensitizing concentrations of dFdCyd (10 or 25 nM; IC10 or IC50) depleted dATP by approximately 80\% within 4 h. In contrast, 80 nM (IC50) was unable to deplete dATP by >30\% within 4 h in D54 cells. Higher concentrations of dFdCyd or hydroxyurea, an inhibitor of ribonucleotide reductase that depleted dATP >90\%, also did not produce radiosensitization in D54 cells. D54 cells were not resistant to radiosensitization because bromodeoxyuridine was able to induce radiosensitization. Because D54 cells express wild-type p53, whereas U251 cells express a mutant p53, the effect of dFdCyd and ionizing radiation on cell cycle progression was evaluated. Radiation alone produced a G1 block in D54 cells and a transient G2-M block in U251 cells. After a 24 h incubation with dFdCyd alone or in combination with ionizing radiation, U251 cells readily accumulated in S-phase, which remained elevated for at least 72 h, consistent with previous results in other mutant p53 cell lines. In addition, radiation enhanced the ability of dFdCyd to induce S-phase-specific cell death in U251 cells. In contrast, D54 cells showed a G1 block after dFdCyd and radiation exposure, with fewer cells in S-phase for at least 48 h after drug washout/irradiation. Furthermore, treatment with dFdCyd and/or radiation did not increase the amount of S-phase-specific cell death in D54 cells compared with control cells. These results suggest that the G1 block in D54 cells resulting from wild-type p53 induction prevented radiosensitization by dFdCyd.
This article was published in Cancer Res
and referenced in Journal of Carcinogenesis & Mutagenesis