Synergetic effect of high dose rate radiations (10× FFF/2400 MU/min/10 MV x-rays) and paclitaxel selectively eliminates melanoma cells

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Background: Melanoma is one of the most aggressive cancers, with 1.6% of total cancer deaths in the United States. In recent years treatment options for metastatic melanoma have been improved by the FDA approval of new therapeutic agents. However, these inhibitors-based therapies are non-specific and have severe toxicities, including hyperkeratosis, photosensitivity, hepatitis, arthralgia, and fatigue. Aims: The aim of this study is to determine the synthetic lethal effect (paclitaxel and radiations) on melanoma cells and reduce the total radiation doses by increasing the dose rates up to 2400 MU/min. Methods and Results: We previously reported a radiation treatment (10 MV x-rays, 10X-FFF, dose rate 2400MU/min, low total dose 0.5 Gy) that kills melanoma cells with 80% survival of normal HEM in vitro. In this study, we extended the radiation cycle up to four and included paclitaxel treatment to study the synthetic lethal effect on melanoma and two other normal primary cells, HDF and HEK. Cells were treated with paclitaxel prior to the radiation at a dose rate of 400 and 2400 MU/min with a total radiation dose of only 0.5 Gy. Mitochondrial respiration assay, DNA damage assay, and colony formation assays were performed to study apoptosis and cell death induction. Four days of consequent radiation treatment with paclitaxel significantly reduces the survival of melanoma cells by inducing apoptosis and mitochondrial damage. After treatment, excessive DNA damage in melanoma cells leads to an increase in the expression of pro-apoptotic genes (Caspase-3) and a decrease in the expression of DNA repair gene (PARP1) and anti-apoptotic gene (Bcl-2) to activate the apoptosis pathway. The combination of paclitaxel and radiation reduces the survival of melanoma cells colonies compared to radiation alone. Conclusion: Our study indicates that radiations with paclitaxel have a potential synthetic lethal effect on melanoma cells and can be developed as a melanoma therapy without toxicities or harmful effects on normal primary skin cells.

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Cancer Reports



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