Hyperthermia, radiation carcinogenesis and the protective potential of vitamin A and N-acetylcysteine

P Sminia, A H van der Kracht, W M Frederiks, W Jansen

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The in vivo carcinogenic risk of hyperthermia, alone or in combination with irradiation, and the anti-carcinogenic potential of vitamin A and N-acetylcysteine (AcCys) were investigated. Starting 1 month before treatment, 160 rats were divided into four diet groups: no additives, vitamin A-enriched diet, AcCys and the combination vitamin A + AcCys. In 10 animals per diet group, the hind leg was treated with either X-irradiation alone (16 Gy), hyperthermia alone (60 min at 43 degrees C), hyperthermia 5 h prior to irradiation or hyperthermia 5 h after irradiation. Animals were observed for 2 years after treatment with regard to the development of tumours either inside or outside the treated volume. After 16 Gy alone 12 +/- 5% of the animals developed a tumour. Tumour incidence increased to 37 +/- 9% (borderline significance P = 0.07 versus treatment with X-rays alone) when hyperthermia was applied prior to X-rays, and to 24 +/- 8% (NS) with hyperthermia after irradiation. The relative risk ratio (RRR) for tumour induction was increased to 2.4 by hyperthermia if combined with X-irradiation. Pathological characterization of induced tumours showed that these were of the fibrosarcoma, osteosarcoma and carcinoma type. Vitamin A alone or in combination with AcCys slightly protected against the induction of tumours by X-rays without or with hyperthermia (RRR of 0.4). However, morphological changes such as lipid accumulation in hepatocytes and damage to the parenchyma were noticed in livers from all animals that were given a vitamin-A-enriched diet (P < 0.0001). Data from the present and past reports show that hyperthermia alone is not carcinogenic, but that it may increase radiation carcinogenesis. Treatment temperature and time of exposure to heat in addition to the radiation dose applied are important factors in the carcinogenic process. The enhancement of radiation carcinogenesis seems to occur independently of the sequence and time interval between irradiation and hyperthermia. However, not all data are consistent with this interpretation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-50
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1996

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