Int J Biol Sci 2015; 11(7):833-844. doi:10.7150/ijbs.10564 This issue

Research Paper

ROS/Autophagy/Nrf2 Pathway Mediated Low-Dose Radiation Induced Radio-Resistance in Human Lung Adenocarcinoma A549 Cell

Ni Chen1,2, Lijun Wu1,2, Hang Yuan2, Jun Wang2,✉

1. School of Nuclear Science and Technology, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei 230027, PR China;
2. Key Laboratory of Ion Beam Bioengineering, Hefei Institute of Physical Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Anhui Province, No. 350 of Shushanhu Road, Hefei 230031, PR China

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Chen N, Wu L, Yuan H, Wang J. ROS/Autophagy/Nrf2 Pathway Mediated Low-Dose Radiation Induced Radio-Resistance in Human Lung Adenocarcinoma A549 Cell. Int J Biol Sci 2015; 11(7):833-844. doi:10.7150/ijbs.10564. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Low-dose ionizing radiation (LDIR) can induce radio-resistance to following high dose radiation in various mammalian cells. The protective role of LDIR has been thought to be associated with the overall outcomes of cancer radiotherapy. NF-E2 related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a transcription factor that plays pivotal roles in maintaining cellular oxidative equilibrium. Since oxidative stress has been indicated to be a mediator of LDIR induced radio-resistance, the role of Nrf2 in this process was investigated in this research. Our results showed that in human lung adenocarcinoma A549 cell, 5cGy alpha particle induced radio-resistance to following 75cGy alpha particle radiation. The expression level of Nrf2 and its target Heme Oxygenase-1(HO-1) increased after 5cGy radiation. Both the shRNA of Nrf2 and the chemical inhibitor of HO-1 suppressed the induced radio-resistance, indicating the involvement of Nrf2 antioxidant pathway in this process. Further, we found 5cGy radiation stimulated autophagy process in A549. Inhibition of the autophagy process resulted in suppression of the radio-resistance and the induced expression of Nrf2 and HO-1. ROS scavenger N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) blocked the autophagy process induced by 5cGy alpha particle, the upregulation of Nrf2 and HO-1, as well as the induced radio-resistance. In conclusion, ROS elevation caused by LDIR promoted Autophagy/Nrf2-HO-1 and conferred radio-resistance in A549.

Keywords: Low dose ionizing radiation, radio-resistance, Nrf2, Autophagy, ROS