Purpose:: The malignancy of tumor cells can be attenuated by interfering with cell death pathways. Since hyperthermia (HT) is a very potent radiosensitizer, the influence of HT (41.5 °C for 1 hour) alone and in combination with ionising irradiation (X-ray; 5 Gy or 10 Gy) on the form of cell death as well as on the expression of proteins known to be major components in tumor cells' apoptotic and necrotic pathways were examined in colorectal tumor cells. Material and Methods:: The expression of proteins was analysed by western blot and the relative activity of caspases-3/7 by fluorescence- based assay. Colony formation was analysed using the clonogenic assay and cell death was determined with annexin V-FITC/propidium iodide staining. Results:: Combining X-ray with HT led to similar activation of caspase-3/7 and p53 expression in comparison to irradiation only while the amount of the pro-apoptotic proteins PUMA and Bax was increased in HCT15 and SW480 cells. HT alone or combinations with X-ray further resulted in a temporarily increased level of the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2. Irradiation plus HT further led to an up-regulation of IRF-5. The levels of RIP-1, a marker for programmed necrosis, increased in tumor cells which were treated with HT and/or X-ray. Combining 5 Gy irradiation with HT compared to irradiation resulted in a significantly increased number of necrotic tumor cells and in decreased colony formation. Conclusion:: The combined treatment of colorectal tumor cells with X-ray and HT activates distinct tumor cell pathways and fosters the early appearance of a necrotic tumor cell phenotype.
- Colorectal cancer