Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Ionizing radiation can be an effective inducer of apoptosis and studies of many aspects of the pathways and mechanisms involved in this apoptosis induction have been published. This review stresses two aspects: the relationship between apoptosis and loss of clonogenic ability in irradiated cells and the time course for the appearance of apoptosis after radiation exposure. Although it was initially assumed that apoptosis occurred relatively quickly (within hours) after irradiation, evidence is presented and discussed here showing that apoptosis can occur at long times after irradiation (out to 20 days) in some cell types. This late, or delayed, apoptosis occurs after the cells have divided once or several times. The impact of delayed apoptosis on loss of clonogenicity after irradiation remains unclear. It seems likely that in some cell types, e.g., fibroblasts, the occurrence of late apoptosis is minimal and may have little impact on long term cell survival of the population, but in at least one instance, with a cell line of hematopoietic origin, it appears that late apoptosis can account for all the loss of clonogenicity in irradiated cells. The role of p53 in radiation-induced apoptosis is also discussed, with data presented showing that both p53-dependent and independent pathways for radiation-induced apoptosis exist, depending on the cell type.
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