Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology

, Volume 145, Issue 1, pp 97–107 | Cite as

Combination of gold nanoparticles with low-LET irradiation: an approach to enhance DNA DSB induction in HT29 colorectal cancer stem-like cells

  • Mahdi Abbasian
  • Azam Baharlouei
  • Zahra Arab-BafraniEmail author
  • David A. Lightfoot
Original Article – Cancer Research



High-linear energy transfer (high LET) irradiation has significant cytotoxic effects on different cancerous stem-like cells (CSLCs) such as colorectal CSLCs. A review of the literature has indicated that the presence of gold nanoparticles (GNPs) enables low-LET irradiation to produce highly non-homogeneous dose distributions like high-LET irradiation. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the radioresponsiveness of HT29 colorectal CSLCs under low-LET irradiation (X-ray) and in the presence of GNPs.


Radioresponsiveness was evaluated using the ϒ-H2AX foci formation assay, the clonogenic assay, the cell cycle progression assay and analyses of radiobiological parameters.


In the presence of GNPs, the survival fraction of HT29 CSLCs was significantly reduced and caused significant changes in the radiobiological parameters after irradiation. In addition, ϒ-H2AX assay showed that in the presence of GNPs, the persistent DNA double-strand breaks were significantly increased in irradiated HT29 CSLCs. The relative biological effectiveness value of GNPs with X-rays was about 1.6 for HT-29 CSLCs at the 10% of cell survival fraction (D10 level) when compared to X-rays alone.


Therefore, the combination of GNPs with X-ray irradiation has the potential to kill HT29 CSLCs greater than the X-ray alone, and may be considered as an alternative for high-LET irradiation.


Cancer stem-like cell Gold nanoparticle DNA DSBs RBE value 



The authors are highly thankful to all technicians who provided support during the course of research. The part of this work was supported by Stem Cell Research Center, Golestan University of Medical Science (Grant no: 950818185).

Author contributions

ABZ and AM designed the research. ABZ, AM and BA performed the experiments. ABZ, AM, and LDA contributed to analysis and interpretation of data. AM and ABZ wrote the manuscript. All authors reviewed the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author(s) declare no competing interests.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stem Cell Research CenterGolestan University of Medical ScienceGorgānIran
  2. 2.Department of Biotechnology, College of AgricultureIsfahan University of TechnologyIsfahanIran
  3. 3.Department of MicrobiologySouthern Illinois University at CarbondaleCarbondaleUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Faculty of MedicineGolestan University of Medical SciencesGorgānIran
  5. 5.Department of Plant, Soil and Agricultural Systems, Plant Biotechnology and Genome Core-FacilitySouthern Illinois University at CarbondaleCarbondaleUSA
  6. 6.Metabolic Disorders Research CenterGolestan University of Medical SciencesGorgānIran

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