Chen, Z., Wang, B., Yu, F. et al. Tumor Biol. (2016) 37: 4083. doi:10.1007/s13277-015-4190-8
Mitochondria as the critical powerhouse of eukaryotic cells play important roles in regulating cell survival or cell death. Under numerous stimuli, impaired mitochondria will generate massive reactive oxygen species (ROS) which participate in the regulation of vital signals and could even determine the fate of cancer cells. While the roles of mitochondria in radiation-induced autophagic cell death still need to be elucidated. Human cervical cancer cell line, Hela, was used, and the SOD2 silencing model (SOD2-Ri) was established by gene engineering. Cell viability was detected by methyl thiazolyl tetrazolium (MTT) assays, MitoTracker Green staining was used to detect mitochondrial mass, Western blot was used to detect protein expression, and the level of ROS, autophagy, and mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) were analyzed by flow cytometry. Ionizing radiation (IR) could induce the increase of MAPLC3-II/MAPLC3-I ratio, Beclin1 expression, and ROS generation but decrease the MMP in a time-dependent manner. After SOD2 silencing, the IR-induced changes of ROS and the MMP were significantly enhanced. Moreover, both the radio sensitivity and autophagy increased in SOD2-Ri cells. Whereas, compared with SOD2-Ri, the opposite results were obtained by NAC, an antioxidant. After the treatment with the inhibitor of mitochondrial electron-transport chain complex II, thenoyltrifluoroacetone (TTFA), the rate of autophagy, ROS, and the total cell death induced by IR increased. In addition, the decrease of MMP was more obvious. However, these results were reversed by cyclosporine A (CsA). IR could induce ROS generation and mitochondrial damage which lead to autophagic cell death in Hela cells.