Hyperthermia pp 147-175 | Cite as

Oxygen, Hydrogen Donors and Radiation Response

  • John E. Biaglow
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 157)


No other chemical has been as widely studied as oxygen and yet continues to be such an intensive subject of study as a sensitizer of mammalian cells (Alpher, 1979; Elkind and Sinclair, 1965; Puch and Marcus, 1956; Hall, 1978; Groesch and Hopwood, 1979). The early studies of Gray et al., 1958, Fig. 1, indicate that as the oxygen concentration is lowered there is a corresponding decrease in the radiation response of cells. The relative radiosensitivity of cells increases rapidly between 0 and 0.3% oxygen. Further increases occur until approximately 30 mm oxygen after which additional increases are very small. The OER (Oxygen Enhancement Ratio), or relative radiosensitivity, varies between 2 and 3.5 for the majority of cells (Hall, 1978). Oxygen has been studied as a sensitizer because of the problem thought to occur in vitro with human tumors. Human tumor cells outgrow their blood supply resulting in a decreased availabiltiy of oxygen and resulting in hypoxic and anoxic tumor areas which may exhibit a decreased radiation response. The chief cause of the oxygen effect in vivo is due to the consumption of oxygen by the tumor cells. The metabolic utilization of oxygen decreased the distance to which it may penetrate in the cells more distant from the capillaries. Unlike the physiological situation, most experiments are performed in vitro with cells that have been equilibrated with a nitrogen-carbon dioxide gas mixture for a period of time that insures the depletion of the dissolved oxygen. These procedures are laborious and require special equipment. A simpler way of demonstrating the oxygen effect is to concentrate cells into a dense suspension approaching in vivo cell densities. We have found that cells under these conditions exhaust their supply of oxygen within minutes (Fig. 2) and may be immediately irradiated, diluted and plated for survival assays.


Diffusion Distance Chinese Hamster Ovary Cell Hydrogen Donor Hypoxic Cell Radiation Response 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • John E. Biaglow
    • 1
  1. 1.Radiation BiochemistrySchool of Medicine Case Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA

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