Endothelial Cell Response to Combined Photon or Proton Irradiation with Doxorubicin

Surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy are essential treatment modalities to target cancer cells, but they frequently cause damage to the normal tissue, potentially leading to side effects. As proton beam radiotherapy (PBT) can precisely spare normal tissue, this therapeutic option is of increasing importance regarding (neo-)adjuvant and definitive anti-cancer therapies. Akin to photon-based radiotherapy, PBT is often combined with systemic treatment, such as doxorubicin (Dox). This study compares the cellular response of human microvascular endothelial cells (HMEC-1) following irradiation with photons (X) or protons (H) alone and also in combination with different sequences of Dox. The cellular survival, cell cycle, apoptosis, proliferation, viability, morphology, and migration were all investigated. Dox monotreatment had minor effects on all endpoints. Both radiation qualities alone and in combination with longer Dox schedules significantly reduced clonogenic survival and proliferation, increased the apoptotic cell fraction, induced a longer G2/M cell cycle arrest, and altered the cell morphology towards endothelial-to-mesenchymal-transition (EndoMT) processes. Radiation quality effects were seen for metabolic viability, proliferation, and motility of HMEC-1 cells. Additive effects were found for longer Dox schedules. Overall, similar effects were found for H/H-Dox and X/X-Dox. Significant alterations between the radiation qualities indicate different but not worse endothelial cell damage by H/H-Dox.


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