Molecular analyses of adaptive survival responses (ASRs): Role of ASRs in radiotherapy

David A. Boothman, Eric Odegaard, Chin Rang Yang, Kelly Hosley, Marc S. Mendonca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Adaptive survival responses (ASRs), whereby cells demonstrate a survival advantage when exposed to very low doses of ionizing radiation (IR) 4-24 h prior to a high dose challenge, were first reported over 15 years ago. These responses were linked to hormesis, which implied that exposure to low levels of IR may be beneficial to the cell. We postulate that increased survival does not necessarily mean that the treatment is beneficial. Studies at the molecular level indicate that ASRs are the result of misregulated cell cycle checkpoint responses, occurring in the G1 phase of the cell cycle after IR. Specific gene products (i.e., PCNA, cyclin D1, cyclin A, XIP8, xip5 and xip13) appear to control these cell cycle checkpoint responses. Certain neoplastic cells show potent ASRs because they bypass checkpoints which would otherwise lead to apoptosis or other forms of cell death (possibly necrosis), and/or these cancer cells lack genetic factors, such as specific caspases (cysteine aspartate-specific proteases), that control apoptosis. Alterations in these cell cycle checkpoints or apoptotic responses may also occur during IR-induced stress responses in normal cells, at critical times (10-18 days posttreatment) following IR. One IR-induced protein, XIP8, may be a critical controlling factor at this point where delayed-onset apoptosis occurs. Additionally, we have shown that the presence or absence (i.e., SCID cells) of nonhomologous DNA double strand break repair did not seem to influence ASRs, suggesting that ASRs may be caused by signal transduction stress responses. ASRs may be beneficial to survival, however, the consequence(s) of that survival may be dire. For example, many neoplastic cells exhibited far greater ASRs than normal cells. Additionally, ASRs were induced by as little as 1 cGy and and were enhanced by repeated exposures of low level radiation. The implications for radiotherapy are that when a patient arrives for port film imaging during the course of therapy, the dose-rate, overall level of exposure, and time between port film exposure and high dose IR treatment become potentially important factors for improved efficacy of treatment of certain cancers. Further research is warranted to determine what molecular factors are most important for ASRs, and current work is focusing on XIP8.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)448-453
Number of pages6
JournalHuman and Experimental Toxicology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1998


  • Adaptive survival responses
  • Carcinogenesis
  • DNA-PK
  • Delayed apoptosis
  • X-ray-inducible proteins/transcripts
  • XIPB

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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