Interaction of ionizing radiation with topotecan in two human tumor cell lines

Renato Marchesini, Ambrogio Colombo, Claudia Caserini, Paola Perego, Rosanna Supino, Giovanni Capranico, Marco Tronconi, Franco Zunino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effect of topotecan, a topoisomerase I inhibitor, on ionizing radiation-induced cytotoxicity was studied in 2 human tumor cell lines characterized by a different expression of the target enzyme. The cytotoxicity of topotecan alone or in combination with radiation was assessed in exponentially growing non-small-cell lung cancer (H460) and glioblastoma (GEM) cells using the colony-forming assay. An isobologram method was used to evaluate the treatment interaction. An apparent supra-additive effect in cell killing following drug-radiation-combined treatment was observed only in GEM cells exposed to topotecan for 24 hr. In the case of H460 cells, interaction varied from a strong infra-additive effect at low radiation doses to a slight supra-additive effect when cells were exposed to radiation doses greater than 3 Gy. Northern blot analysis indicated that topoisomerase 1 expression in H460 cells was 8-fold higher than that of GEM cells. Although the H460 cell line exhibited an increased sensitivity to topotecan, only in the GEM cell line (which expressed a lower level of topoisomerase I did the drug potentiate the radiation cytotoxicity. The observation that the radiosensitization by topotecan was related to topoisomerase I level is consistent with a putative role of the enzyme in processes involved in the repair of radiation damage. It is conceivable that the modulation of enzyme function results in an effective reduction of cellular capability for repair of radiation damage only if the enzyme is not over-expressed. Although a precise role of topoisomerase I in the cellular response to ionizing radiations (in particular, in DNA repair) remains to be documented, such results suggest the potential interest of topoisomerase I inhibitors in combination with radiation therapy for tumors expressing low topoisomerase I levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-346
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 3 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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