The sensitivity of human mesenchymal stem cells to ionizing radiation

Miao Fen Chen, Ching Tai Lin, Wen Cheng Chen, Cheng Ta Yang, Chih Cheng Chen, Shuen Kuei Liao, Jacqueline Ming Liu, Chang Hsien Lu, Kuan Der Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

158 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Recent studies have shown that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) obtained from bone marrow transplantation patients originate from the host. This clinical observation suggests that MSCs in their niches could be resistant to irradiation. However, the biologic responses of bone marrow MSCs to irradiation have rarely been described in the literature. Methods and Materials: In this study, human bone marrow-derived, clonally expanded MSCs were used to investigate their sensitivity to irradiation in vitro, and the cellular mechanisms that may facilitate resistance to irradiation. The human lung cancer cell line A549 and the breast cancer cell line HCC1937 were used as controls for radiosensitivity; the former line has been shown to be radioresistant and the latter radiosensitive. We then examined their in vitro biologic changes and sensitivities to radiation therapy. Results: Our results suggest that MSCs are characterized as resistant to irradiation. Several cellular mechanisms were demonstrated that may facilitate resistance to irradiation: ATM protein phosphorylation, activation of cell-cycle checkpoints, double-strand break repair by homologous recombination and nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ), and the antioxidant capacity for scavenging reactive oxygen species. Conclusions: As demonstrated, MSCs possess a better antioxidant reactive oxygen species-scavenging capacity and active double-strand break repair to facilitate their radioresistance. These findings provide a better understanding of radiation-induced biologic responses in MSCs and may lead to the development of better strategies for stem cell treatment and cancer therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-253
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Antioxidant
  • DNA repair
  • Mesenchymal stem cell
  • Radiation sensitivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiation


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