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1.  Distinct increased outliers among 136 rectal cancer patients assessed by γH2AX 
In recent years attention has focused on γH2AX as a very sensitive double strand break indicator. It has been suggested that γH2AX might be able to predict individual radiosensitivity. Our aim was to study the induction and repair of DNA double strand breaks labelled by γH2AX in a large cohort.
In a prospective study lymphocytes of 136 rectal cancer (RC) patients and 59 healthy individuals were ex vivo irradiated (IR) and initial DNA damage was compared to remaining DNA damage after 2 Gy and 24 hours repair time and preexisting DNA damage in unirradiated lymphocytes. Lymphocytes were immunostained with anti-γH2AX antibodies and microscopic images with an extended depth of field were acquired. γH2AX foci counting was performed using a semi-automatic image analysis software.
Distinct increased values of preexisting and remaining γH2AX foci in the group of RC patients were found compared to the healthy individuals. Additionally there are clear differences within the groups and there are outliers in about 12% of the RC patients after ex vivo IR.
The γH2AX assay has the capability to identify a group of outliers which are most probably patients with increased radiosensitivity having the highest risk of suffering radiotherapy-related late sequelae.
PMCID: PMC4330982
γH2AX; DNA double strand breaks; Rectal cancer; Radiotherapy; Individual radiosensitivity
2.  Multimodal therapy in treatment of rectal cancer is associated with improved survival and reduced local recurrence - a retrospective analysis over two decades 
BMC Cancer  2014;14(1):816.
The management of rectal cancer (RC) has substantially changed over the last decades with the implementation of neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy, adjuvant therapy and improved surgery such as total mesorectal excision (TME). It remains unclear in which way these approaches overall influenced the rate of local recurrence and overall survival.
Clinical, histological and survival data of 658 out of 662 consecutive patients with RC were analyzed for treatment and prognostic factors from a prospectively expanded single-institutional database. Findings were then stratified according to time of diagnosis in patient groups treated between 1993 and 2001 and 2002 and 2010.
The study population included 658 consecutive patients with rectal cancer between 1993 and 2010. Follow up data was available for 99.6% of all 662 treated patients. During the time period between 2002 and 2010 significantly more patients underwent neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (17.6% vs. 60%) and adjuvant chemotherapy (37.9% vs. 58.4%). Also, the rate of reported TME during surgery increased. The rate of local or distant metastasis decreased over time, and tumor related 5-year survival increased significantly with from 60% to 79%.
In our study population, the implementation of treatment changes over the last decade improved the patient’s outcome significantly. Improvements were most evident for UICC stage III rectal cancer.
PMCID: PMC4236459  PMID: 25376382
Rectal cancer; Improved survival; TME
3.  Novel PI3K and mTOR Inhibitor NVP-BEZ235 Radiosensitizes Breast Cancer Cell Lines under Normoxic and Hypoxic Conditions 
In the present study, we assessed, if the novel dual phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitor NVP-BEZ235 radiosensitizes triple negative (TN) MDA-MB-231 and estrogen receptor (ER) positive MCF-7 cells to ionizing radiation under various oxygen conditions, simulating different microenvironments as occurring in the majority of breast cancers (BCs). Irradiation (IR) of BC cells cultivated in hypoxic conditions revealed increased radioresistance compared to normoxic controls. Treatment with NVP-BEZ235 completely circumvented this hypoxia-induced effects and radiosensitized normoxic, reoxygenated, and hypoxic cells to similar extents. Furthermore, NVP-BEZ235 treatment suppressed HIF-1α expression and PI3K/mTOR signaling, induced autophagy, and caused protracted DNA damage repair in both cell lines in all tested oxygen conditions. Moreover, after incubation with NVP-BEZ235, MCF-7 cells revealed depletion of phospho-AKT and considerable signs of apoptosis, which were significantly enhanced by radiation. Our findings clearly demonstrate that NVP-BEZ235 has a clinical relevant potential as a radiosensitizer in BC treatment.
PMCID: PMC3964191  PMID: 24678241
radiosensibility; Akt; DNA repair protraction; apoptosis; hypoxia; autophagy
4.  Cell Surface Area and Membrane Folding in Glioblastoma Cell Lines Differing in PTEN and p53 Status 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87052.
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is characterized by rapid growth, invasion and resistance to chemo−/radiotherapy. The complex cell surface morphology with abundant membrane folds, microvilli, filopodia and other membrane extensions is believed to contribute to the highly invasive behavior and therapy resistance of GBM cells. The present study addresses the mechanisms leading to the excessive cell membrane area in five GBM lines differing in mutational status for PTEN and p53. In addition to scanning electron microscopy (SEM), the membrane area and folding were quantified by dielectric measurements of membrane capacitance using the single-cell electrorotation (ROT) technique. The osmotic stability and volume regulation of GBM cells were analyzed by video microscopy. The expression of PTEN, p53, mTOR and several other marker proteins involved in cell growth and membrane synthesis were examined by Western blotting. The combined SEM, ROT and osmotic data provided independent lines of evidence for a large variability in membrane area and folding among tested GBM lines. Thus, DK-MG cells (wild type p53 and wild type PTEN) exhibited the lowest degree of membrane folding, probed by the area-specific capacitance Cm = 1.9 µF/cm2. In contrast, cell lines carrying mutations in both p53 and PTEN (U373-MG and SNB19) showed the highest Cm values of 3.7–4.0 µF/cm2, which corroborate well with their heavily villated cell surface revealed by SEM. Since PTEN and p53 are well-known inhibitors of mTOR, the increased membrane area/folding in mutant GBM lines may be related to the enhanced protein and lipid synthesis due to a deregulation of the mTOR-dependent downstream signaling pathway. Given that membrane folds and extensions are implicated in tumor cell motility and metastasis, the dielectric approach presented here provides a rapid and simple tool for screening the biophysical cell properties in studies on targeting chemo- or radiotherapeutically the migration and invasion of GBM and other tumor types.
PMCID: PMC3909012  PMID: 24498019
5.  Towards automated on-line adaptation of 2-Step IMRT plans: QUASIMODO phantom and prostate cancer cases 
The standard clinical protocol of image-guided IMRT for prostate carcinoma introduces isocenter relocation to restore the conformity of the multi-leaf collimator (MLC) segments to the target as seen in the cone-beam CT on the day of treatment. The large interfractional deformations of the clinical target volume (CTV) still require introduction of safety margins which leads to undesirably high rectum toxicity. Here we present further results from the 2-Step IMRT method which generates adaptable prostate IMRT plans using Beam Eye View (BEV) and 3D information.
Intermediate/high-risk prostate carcinoma cases are treated using Simultaneous Integrated Boost at the Universitätsklinkum Würzburg (UKW). Based on the planning CT a CTV is defined as the prostate and the base of seminal vesicles. The CTV is expanded by 10 mm resulting in the PTV; the posterior margin is limited to 7 mm. The Boost is obtained by expanding the CTV by 5 mm, overlap with rectum is not allowed. Prescription doses to PTV and Boost are 60.1 and 74 Gy respectively given in 33 fractions.
We analyse the geometry of the structures of interest (SOIs): PTV, Boost, and rectum, and generate 2-Step IMRT plans to deliver three fluence steps: conformal to the target SOIs (S0), sparing the rectum (S1), and narrow segments compensating the underdosage in the target SOIs due to the rectum sparing (S2). The width of S2 segments is calculated for every MLC leaf pair based on the target and rectum geometry in the corresponding CT layer to have best target coverage. The resulting segments are then fed into the DMPO optimizer of the Pinnacle treatment planning system for weight optimization and fine-tuning of the form, prior to final dose calculation using the collapsed cone algorithm.
We adapt 2-Step IMRT plans to changed geometry whilst simultaneously preserving the number of initially planned Monitor Units (MU). The adaptation adds three further steps to the previous isocenter relocation: 1) 2-Step generation for the geometry of the day using the relocated isocenter, MU transfer from the planning geometry; 2) Adaptation of the widths of S2 segments to the geometry of the day; 3) Imitation of DMPO fine-tuning for the geometry of the day.
Results and conclusion
We have performed automated 2-Step IMRT adaptation for ten prostate adaptation cases. The adapted plans show statistically significant improvement of the target coverage and of the rectum sparing compared to those plans in which only the isocenter is relocated. The 2-Step IMRT method may become a core of the automated adaptive radiation therapy system at our department.
PMCID: PMC4225755  PMID: 24207129
Prostate carcinoma; IMRT; IGRT; Adaptation
6.  Radiosensitivity in breast cancer assessed by the histone γ-H2AX and 53BP1 foci 
High expression of constitutive histone γ-H2AX, a sensitive marker of DNA damage, might be indicative of defective DNA repair pathway or genomic instability. 53BP1 (p53-binding protein 1) is a conserved checkpoint protein with properties of a DNA double-strand breaks sensor. This study explores the relationship between the clinical radiosensitivity of tumor patients and the expression/induction of γ-H2AX and 53BP1 in vitro.
Using immunostaining, we assessed spontaneous and radiation-induced foci of γ-H2AX and 53 BP1 in peripheral blood mononuclear cells derived from unselected breast cancer (BC) patients (n=57) undergoing radiotherapy (RT). Cells from apparently healthy donors (n=12) served as references.
Non-irradiated cells from controls and unselected BC patients exhibited similar baseline levels of DNA damage assessed by γ-H2AX and 53BP1 foci. At the same time, the γ-H2AX assay of in vitro irradiated cells revealed significant differences between the control group and the group of unselected BC patients with respect to the initial (0.5 Gy, 30 min) and residual (2 Gy, 24 h post-radiation) DNA damage. The numbers of 53BP1 foci analyzed in 35 BC patients were significantly higher than in controls only in case of residual DNA damage. A weak correlation was found between residual foci of both proteins tested. In addition, cells from cancer patients with an adverse acute skin reaction (grade 3) to RT showed significantly increased radiation-induced γ-H2AX foci and their protracted disappearance compared to the group of BC patients with normal skin reaction (grade 0–1). The mean number of γ-H2AX foci after 5 clinical fractions was significantly higher than that before RT, especially in clinically radiosensitive patients.
The γ-H2AX assay may have potential for screening individual radiosensitivity of breast cancer patients.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3653697  PMID: 23617930
DNA damage; DNA repair; Peripheral blood lymphocytes; Radiosensitivity
7.  Radiosensitization of Glioblastoma Cell Lines by the Dual PI3K and mTOR Inhibitor NVP-BEZ235 Depends on Drug-Irradiation Schedule12 
Translational Oncology  2013;6(2):169-179.
Previous studies have shown that the dual phosphatidylinositide 3-kinase/mammalian target of rapamycin (PI3K/mTOR) inhibitor NVP-BEZ235 radiosensitizes tumor cells if added shortly before ionizing radiation (IR) and kept in culture medium thereafter. The present study explores the impact of inhibitor and IR schedule on the radiosensitizing ability of NVP-BEZ235 in four human glioblastoma cell lines. Two different drug-IR treatment schedules were compared. In schedule I, cells were treated with NVP-BEZ235 for 24 hours before IR and the drug was removed before IR. In schedule II, the cells were exposed to NVP-BEZ235 1 hour before, during, and up to 48 hours after IR. The cellular response was analyzed by colony counts, expression of marker proteins of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway, cell cycle, and DNA damage. We found that under schedule I, NVP-BEZ235 did not radiosensitize cells, which were mostly arrested in G1 phase during IR exposure. In addition, the drug-pretreated and irradiated cells exhibited less DNA damage but increased expressions of phospho-AKT and phospho-mTOR, compared to controls. In contrast, NVP-BEZ235 strongly enhanced the radiosensitivity of cells treated according to schedule II. Possible reasons of radiosensitization by NVP-BEZ235 under schedule II might be the protracted DNA repair, prolonged G2/M arrest, and, to some extent, apoptosis. In addition, the PI3K pathway was downregulated by the NVP-BEZ235 at the time of irradiation under schedule II, as contrasted with its activation in schedule I. We found that, depending on the drug-IR schedule, the NVP-BEZ235 can act either as a strong radiosensitizer or as a cytostatic agent in glioblastoma cells.
PMCID: PMC3610553  PMID: 23544169
8.  Stereotactic body radiation therapy in the re-irradiation situation – a review 
Although locoregional relapse is frequent after definitive radiotherapy (RT) or multimodal treatments, re-irradiation is only performed in few patients even in palliative settings like e.g. vertebral metastasis. This is most due to concern about potentially severe complications, especially when large volumes are exposed to re-irradiation. With technological advancements in treatment planning the interest in re-irradiation as a local treatment approach has been reinforced. Recently, several studies reported re-irradiation for spinal metastases using SBRT with promising local and symptom control rates and simultaneously low rates of toxicity. These early data consistently indicate that SBRT is a safe and effective treatment modality in this clinical situation, where other treatment alternatives are rare. Similarly, good results have been shown for SBRT in the re-irradiation of head and neck tumors. Despite severe late adverse effects were reported in several studies, especially after single fraction doses >10 Gy, they appear less frequently compared to conventional radiotherapy. Few studies with small patient numbers have been published on SBRT re-irradiation for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Overall survival (OS) is limited by systemic progression and seems to depend particularly on patient selection. SBRT re-irradiation after primary SBRT should not be practiced in centrally located tumors due to high risk of severe toxicity. Only limited data is available for SBRT re-irradiation of pelvic tumors: feasibility and acceptable toxicity has been described, suggesting SBRT as a complementary treatment modality for local symptom control.
PMCID: PMC3552718  PMID: 23289496
Stereotactic body radiotherapy; Radiosurgery; Re-irradiation; Locoregional recurrence; Normal tissue tolerance; Spinal metastases; NSCLC; Head and neck cancer; Pelvic tumors
9.  Fractionated radiosurgery for painful spinal metastases: DOSIS - a phase II trial 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:530.
One third of all cancer patients will develop bone metastases and the vertebral column is involved in approximately 70% of these patients. Conventional radiotherapy with of 1–10 fractions and total doses of 8-30 Gy is the current standard for painful vertebral metastases; however, the median pain response is short with 3–6 months and local tumor control is limited with these rather low irradiation doses. Recent advances in radiotherapy technology – intensity modulated radiotherapy for generation of highly conformal dose distributions and image-guidance for precise treatment delivery – have made dose-escalated radiosurgery of spinal metastases possible and early results of pain and local tumor control are promising. The current study will investigate efficacy and safety of radiosurgery for painful vertebral metastases and three characteristics will distinguish this study. 1) A prognostic score for overall survival will be used for selection of patients with longer life expectancy to allow for analysis of long-term efficacy and safety. 2) Fractionated radiosurgery will be performed with the number of treatment fractions adjusted to either good (10 fractions) or intermediate (5 fractions) life expectancy. Fractionation will allow inclusion of tumors immediately abutting the spinal cord due to higher biological effective doses at the tumor - spinal cord interface compared to single fraction treatment. 3) Dose intensification will be performed in the involved parts of the vertebrae only, while uninvolved parts are treated with conventional doses using the simultaneous integrated boost concept.
Methods / Design
It is the study hypothesis that hypo-fractionated image-guided radiosurgery significantly improves pain relief compared to historic data of conventionally fractionated radiotherapy. Primary endpoint is pain response 3 months after radiosurgery, which is defined as pain reduction of ≥ 2 points at the treated vertebral site on the 0 to 10 Visual Analogue Scale. 60 patients will be included into this two-centre phase II trial.
Results of this study will refine the methods of patient selection, target volume definition, treatment planning and delivery as well as quality assurance for radiosurgery. It is the intention of this study to form the basis for a future randomized controlled trial comparing conventional radiotherapy with fractionated radiosurgery for palliation of painful vertebral metastases.
Trial registration Identifier: NCT01594892
PMCID: PMC3522547  PMID: 23164174
Phase II trial; Spinal metastasis; Pain; Radiosurgery; Stereotactic body radiotherapy
10.  Hsp90 Inhibitors NVP-AUY922 and NVP-BEP800 May Exert a Significant Radiosensitization on Tumor Cells along with a Cell Type-Specific Cytotoxicity12 
Translational Oncology  2012;5(5):356-369.
Targeting heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) provides a promising therapeutic approach to enhance the sensitivity of tumor cells to ionizing radiation (IR). To explore the impact of scheduling drug-IR administration, in the present study, we analyzed the response of lung carcinoma A549 and glioblastoma SNB19 cells to simultaneous drug-IR treatment followed by a long-term drug administration. Cellular response was evaluated at different time intervals after IR-alone, drug-alone, or combined drug-IR treatments by colony counts and expression profiles of Hsp90 and its clients, along with several apoptotic markers and cell cycle-related proteins, as well as by IR-drug-induced cell cycle arrest, DNA damage, and repair. A short 30-minute exposure to either Hsp90 inhibitor did not affect the radiosensitivity of both tumor cell lines. Increasing the duration of post-IR-drug treatment progressively enhanced the sensitivity of SNB19 cells to IR. In contrast, the response of A549 cells to drug-IR combination was largely determined by the cytotoxic effects of both drugs without radiosensitization. Combined drug-IR treatment induced more severe DNA damage in both tumor cell lines than each treatment alone and also protracted the kinetics of DNA damage repair in SNB19 cells. In addition to large cell cycle disturbances, drug-IR treatment also caused depletion of the antiapoptotic proteins Akt and Raf-1 in both cell lines, along with a decrease of survivin in A549 cells in case of NVP-AUY922. The data show that simultaneous Hsp90 inhibition and irradiation may induce cell type-specific radiosensitization as well as cytotoxicity against tumor cells.
PMCID: PMC3470116  PMID: 23066444
11.  Inhibition of N-Myc down regulated gene 1 in in vitro cultured human glioblastoma cells 
AIM: To study short dsRNA oligonucleotides (siRNA) as a potent tool for artificially modulating gene expression of N-Myc down regulated gene 1 (NDRG1) gene induced under different physiological conditions (Normoxia and hypoxia) modulating NDRG1 transcription, mRNA stability and translation.
METHODS: A cell line established from a patient with glioblastoma multiforme. Plasmid DNA for transfections was prepared with the Endofree Plasmid Maxi kit. From plates containing 5 × 107 cells, nuclear extracts were prepared according to previous protocols. The pSUPER-NDRG1 vectors were designed, two sequences were selected from the human NDRG1 cDNA (5’-GCATTATTGGCATGGGAAC-3’ and 5’-ATGCAGAGTAACGTGGAAG-3’. reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction was performed using primers designed using published information on β-actin and hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α mRNA sequences in GenBank. NDRG1 mRNA and protein level expression results under different conditions of hypoxia or reoxygenation were compared to aerobic control conditions using the Mann-Whitney U test. Reoxygenation values were also compared to the NDRG1 levels after 24 h of hypoxia (P < 0.05 was considered significant).
RESULTS: siRNA- and iodoacetate (IAA)-mediated downregulation of NDRG1 mRNA and protein expression in vitro in human glioblastoma cell lines showed a nearly complete inhibition of NDRG1 expression when compared to the results obtained due to the inhibitory role of glycolysis inhibitor IAA. Hypoxia responsive elements bound by nuclear HIF-1 in human glioblastoma cells in vitro under different oxygenation conditions and the clearly enhanced binding of nuclear extracts from glioblastoma cell samples exposed to extreme hypoxic conditions confirmed the HIF-1 Western blotting results.
CONCLUSION: NDRG1 represents an additional diagnostic marker for brain tumor detection, due to the role of hypoxia in regulating this gene, and it can represent a potential target for tumor treatment in human glioblastoma. The siRNA method can represent an elegant alternative to modulate the expression of the hypoxia induced NDRG1 gene and can help to monitor the development of the cancer disease treatment outcome through monitoring the expression of this gene in the patients undergoing the different therapeutic treatment alternatives available nowadays.
PMCID: PMC3394081  PMID: 22787578
N-Myc down regulated gene 1; Short dsRNA oligonucleotides; Human cancer diseases; Brain cancer; Radiotherapy
12.  Radiotherapy alone for stage I-III low grade follicular lymphoma: long-term outcome and comparison of extended field and total nodal irradiation 
To analyze long-term results of radiotherapy alone for stage I-III low grade follicular lymphoma and to compare outcome after extended field irradiation (EFI) and total nodal irradiation (TNI).
Methods and materials
Between 1982 and 2007, 107 patients were treated with radiotherapy alone for low grade follicular lymphoma at Ann Arbor stage I (n = 50), II (n = 36) and III (n = 21); 48 and 59 patients were treated with EFI and TNI, respectively. The median total dose in the first treatment series of the diaphragmatic side with larger lymphoma burden was 38 Gy (25 Gy – 50 Gy) and after an interval of median 30 days, a total dose of 28 Gy (12.6 Gy – 45 Gy) was given in the second treatment series completing TNI.
After a median follow-up of 14 years for living patients, 10-years and 15-years overall survival (OS) were 64% and 50%, respectively. Survival was not significantly different between stages I, II and III. TNI and EFI resulted in 15-years OS of 65% and 34% but patients treated with TNI were younger, had better performance status and higher stage of disease compared to patients treated with EFI. In multivariate analysis, only age at diagnosis (p < 0.001, relative risk [RR] 1.06) and Karnofsky performance status (p = 0.04, RR = 0.96) were significantly correlated with OS. Freedom from progression (FFP) was 58% and 56% after 10-years and 15-years, respectively. Recurrences outside the irradiated volume were significantly reduced after TNI compared to EFI; however, increased rates of in-field recurrences and extra-nodal out-of-field recurrence counterbalanced this effect resulting in no significant difference in FFP between TNI and EFI. In univariate analysis, FFP was significantly improved in stage I compared to stage II but no differences were observed between stages I/II and stage III. In multivariate analysis no patient or treatment parameter was correlated with FFP. Acute toxicity was significantly increased after TNI compared to EFI with a trend to increased late toxicity as well.
Radiotherapy alone for stage I and II follicular lymphoma resulted in long-term OS with high rates of disease control; no benefit of TNI over EFI was observed. For stage III follicular lymphoma, TNI achieved promising OS and FFP and should be considered as a potentially curative treatment option.
PMCID: PMC3432005  PMID: 22726938
Follicular lymphoma; Total nodal irradiation; Extended field irradiation
13.  Combination of peptide receptor radionuclide therapy with fractionated external beam radiotherapy for treatment of advanced symptomatic meningioma 
External beam radiotherapy (EBRT) is the treatment of choice for irresectable meningioma. Due to the strong expression of somatostatin receptors, peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) has been used in advanced cases. We assessed the feasibility and tolerability of a combination of both treatment modalities in advanced symptomatic meningioma.
10 patients with irresectable meningioma were treated with PRRT (177Lu-DOTA0,Tyr3 octreotate or - DOTA0,Tyr3 octreotide) followed by external beam radiotherapy (EBRT). EBRT performed after PRRT was continued over 5–6 weeks in IMRT technique (median dose: 53.0 Gy). All patients were assessed morphologically and by positron emission tomography (PET) before therapy and were restaged after 3–6 months. Side effects were evaluated according to CTCAE 4.0.
Median tumor dose achieved by PRRT was 7.2 Gy. During PRRT and EBRT, no side effects > CTCAE grade 2 were noted. All patients reported stabilization or improvement of tumor-associated symptoms, no morphologic tumor progression was observed in MR-imaging (median follow-up: 13.4 months). The median pre-therapeutic SUVmax in the meningiomas was 14.2 (range: 4.3–68.7). All patients with a second PET after combined PRRT + EBRT showed an increase in SUVmax (median: 37%; range: 15%–46%) to a median value of 23.7 (range: 8.0–119.0; 7 patients) while PET-estimated volume generally decreased to 81 ± 21% of the initial volume.
The combination of PRRT and EBRT is feasible and well tolerated. This approach represents an attractive strategy for the treatment of recurring or progressive symptomatic meningioma, which should be further evaluated.
PMCID: PMC3439242  PMID: 22720902
PRRT; Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy; Meningioma; Radiotherapy; EBRT; Combination
14.  Hypoxia and cytokines regulate carbonic anhydrase 9 expression in hepatocellular carcinoma cells in vitro 
AIM: To study the expression of carbonic anhydrase (CA) 9 in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells.
METHODS: We studied CA9 protein, CA9 mRNA and hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alpha (HIF-1α) protein levels in Hep3B cells exposed in different parallel approaches. In one of these approaches, HCC cells were exposed to extreme in vitro hypoxia (24 h 0.1% O2) without or with interleukin (IL)-1, IL-6, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) stimulation for the same hypoxic exposure time or exposed to normoxic oxygenation conditions without or with cytokine stimulation.
RESULTS: The tumour cell line analysed showed a strong hypoxic CA9 mRNA expression pattern in response to prolonged severe hypoxia with cell-line specific patterns and a marked induction of CA9 protein in response to severe hypoxia. These results were paralleled by the results for HIF-1α protein under identical oxygenation conditions with a similar expression tendency to that displayed during the CA9 protein expression experimental series. Continuous stimulation with the cytokines, IL-1, IL-6, TNF-α and TGF-β, under normoxic conditions significantly increased the carbonic anhydrase 9 expression level at both the protein and mRNA level, almost doubling the CA9 mRNA and CA9 and HIF-1α protein expression levels found under hypoxia. The findings from these experiments indicated that hypoxia is a positive regulator of CA9 expression in HCC, and the four signal transduction pathways, IL-1, IL-6, TNF-α and TGF-β, positively influence CA9 expression under both normoxic and hypoxic conditions.
CONCLUSION: These findings may potentially be considered in the design of anti- cancer therapeutic approaches involving hypoxia-induced or cytokine stimulatory effects on expression. In addition, they provide evidence of the stimulatory role of the examined cytokine families resulting in an increase in CA9 expression under different oxygenation conditions in human cancer, especially HCC, and on the role of the CA9 gene as a positive disease regulator in human cancer.
PMCID: PMC3380102  PMID: 22724087
Angiogenesis; Carbonic anhydrase 9; Hypoxia; Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alpha; Oxygen; Radiotherapy; Transforming growth factor-beta; Tumour microenviroment
15.  Accuracy and inter-observer variability of 3D versus 4D cone-beam CT based image-guidance in SBRT for lung tumors 
To analyze the accuracy and inter-observer variability of image-guidance (IG) using 3D or 4D cone-beam CT (CBCT) technology in stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) for lung tumors.
Materials and methods
Twenty-one consecutive patients treated with image-guided SBRT for primary and secondary lung tumors were basis for this study. A respiration correlated 4D-CT and planning contours served as reference for all IG techniques. Three IG techniques were performed independently by three radiation oncologists (ROs) and three radiotherapy technicians (RTTs). Image-guidance using respiration correlated 4D-CBCT (IG-4D) with automatic registration of the planning 4D-CT and the verification 4D-CBCT was considered gold-standard. Results were compared with two IG techniques using 3D-CBCT: 1) manual registration of the planning internal target volume (ITV) contour and the motion blurred tumor in the 3D-CBCT (IG-ITV); 2) automatic registration of the planning reference CT image and the verification 3D-CBCT (IG-3D). Image quality of 3D-CBCT and 4D-CBCT images was scored on a scale of 1–3, with 1 being best and 3 being worst quality for visual verification of the IGRT results.
Image quality was scored significantly worse for 3D-CBCT compared to 4D-CBCT: the worst score of 3 was given in 19 % and 7.1 % observations, respectively. Significant differences in target localization were observed between 4D-CBCT and 3D-CBCT based IG: compared to the reference of IG-4D, tumor positions differed by 1.9 mm ± 0.9 mm (3D vector) on average using IG-ITV and by 3.6 mm ± 3.2 mm using IG-3D; results of IG-ITV were significantly closer to the reference IG-4D compared to IG-3D. Differences between the 4D-CBCT and 3D-CBCT techniques increased significantly with larger motion amplitude of the tumor; analogously, differences increased with worse 3D-CBCT image quality scores. Inter-observer variability was largest in SI direction and was significantly larger in IG using 3D-CBCT compared to 4D-CBCT: 0.6 mm versus 1.5 mm (one standard deviation). Inter-observer variability was not different between the three ROs compared to the three RTTs.
Respiration correlated 4D-CBCT improves the accuracy of image-guidance by more precise target localization in the presence of breathing induced target motion and by reduced inter-observer variability.
PMCID: PMC3484063  PMID: 22682767
Lung cancer; Image-guidance; Cone-beam CT; Inter-observer variability; Respiration correlated imaging
16.  Dosimetric consequences of translational and rotational errors in frame-less image-guided radiosurgery 
To investigate geometric and dosimetric accuracy of frame-less image-guided radiosurgery (IG-RS) for brain metastases.
Methods and materials
Single fraction IG-RS was practiced in 72 patients with 98 brain metastases. Patient positioning and immobilization used either double- (n = 71) or single-layer (n = 27) thermoplastic masks. Pre-treatment set-up errors (n = 98) were evaluated with cone-beam CT (CBCT) based image-guidance (IG) and were corrected in six degrees of freedom without an action level. CBCT imaging after treatment measured intra-fractional errors (n = 64). Pre- and post-treatment errors were simulated in the treatment planning system and target coverage and dose conformity were evaluated. Three scenarios of 0 mm, 1 mm and 2 mm GTV-to-PTV (gross tumor volume, planning target volume) safety margins (SM) were simulated.
Errors prior to IG were 3.9 mm ± 1.7 mm (3D vector) and the maximum rotational error was 1.7° ± 0.8° on average. The post-treatment 3D error was 0.9 mm ± 0.6 mm. No differences between double- and single-layer masks were observed. Intra-fractional errors were significantly correlated with the total treatment time with 0.7mm±0.5mm and 1.2mm±0.7mm for treatment times ≤23 minutes and >23 minutes (p<0.01), respectively. Simulation of RS without image-guidance reduced target coverage and conformity to 75% ± 19% and 60% ± 25% of planned values. Each 3D set-up error of 1 mm decreased target coverage and dose conformity by 6% and 10% on average, respectively, with a large inter-patient variability. Pre-treatment correction of translations only but not rotations did not affect target coverage and conformity. Post-treatment errors reduced target coverage by >5% in 14% of the patients. A 1 mm safety margin fully compensated intra-fractional patient motion.
IG-RS with online correction of translational errors achieves high geometric and dosimetric accuracy. Intra-fractional errors decrease target coverage and conformity unless compensated with appropriate safety margins.
PMCID: PMC3441228  PMID: 22531060
Radiosurgery; Frame-less; Frame-based; Stereotactic; Image-guidance
17.  Fast IMRT by increasing the beam number and reducing the number of segments 
The purpose of this work is to develop fast deliverable step and shoot IMRT technique. A reduction in the number of segments should theoretically be possible, whilst simultaneously maintaining plan quality, provided that the reduction is accompanied by an increased number of gantry angles. A benefit of this method is that the segment shaping could be performed during gantry motion, thereby reducing the delivery time. The aim was to find classes of such solutions whose plan quality can compete with conventional IMRT.
A planning study was performed. Step and shoot IMRT plans were created using direct machine parameter optimization (DMPO) as a reference. DMPO plans were compared to an IMRT variant having only one segment per angle ("2-Step Fast"). 2-Step Fast is based on a geometrical analysis of the topology of the planning target volume (PTV) and the organs at risk (OAR). A prostate/rectum case, spine metastasis/spinal cord, breast/lung and an artificial PTV/OAR combination of the ESTRO-Quasimodo phantom were used for the study. The composite objective value (COV), a quality score, and plan delivery time were compared. The delivery time for the DMPO reference plan and the 2-Step Fast IMRT technique was measured and calculated for two different linacs, a twelve year old Siemens Primus™ ("old" linac) and two Elekta Synergy™ "S" linacs ("new" linacs).
2-Step Fast had comparable or better quality than the reference DMPO plan. The number of segments was smaller than for the reference plan, the number of gantry angles was between 23 and 34. For the modern linac the delivery time was always smaller than that for the reference plan. The calculated (measured) values showed a mean delivery time reduction of 21% (21%) for the new linac, and of 7% (3%) for the old linac compared to the respective DMPO reference plans. For the old linac, the data handling time per beam was the limiting factor for the treatment time reduction.
2-Step Fast plans are suited to reduce the delivery time, especially if the data handling time per beam is short. The plan quality can be retained or even increased for fewer segments provided more gantry angles are used.
PMCID: PMC3377925  PMID: 22152490
IMAT; Step and Shoot IMRT; VMAT; Optimization
18.  Semi-robotic 6 degree of freedom positioning for intracranial high precision radiotherapy; first phantom and clinical results 
To introduce a novel method of patient positioning for high precision intracranial radiotherapy.
An infrared(IR)-array, reproducibly attached to the patient via a vacuum-mouthpiece(vMP) and connected to the table via a 6 degree-of-freedom(DoF) mechanical arm serves as positioning and fixation system. After IR-based manual prepositioning to rough treatment position and fixation of the mechanical arm, a cone-beam CT(CBCT) is performed. A robotic 6 DoF treatment couch (HexaPOD™) then automatically corrects all remaining translations and rotations. This absolute position of infrared markers at the first fraction acts as reference for the following fractions where patients are manually prepositioned to within ± 2 mm and ± 2° of this IR reference position prior to final HexaPOD-based correction; consequently CBCT imaging is only required once at the first treatment fraction.
The preclinical feasibility and attainable repositioning accuracy of this method was evaluated on a phantom and human volunteers as was the clinical efficacy on 7 pilot study patients.
Phantom and volunteer manual IR-based prepositioning to within ± 2 mm and ± 2° in 6DoF was possible within a mean(± SD) of 90 ± 31 and 56 ± 22 seconds respectively. Mean phantom translational and rotational precision after 6 DoF corrections by the HexaPOD was 0.2 ± 0.2 mm and 0.7 ± 0.8° respectively. For the actual patient collective, the mean 3D vector for inter-treatment repositioning accuracy (n = 102) was 1.6 ± 0.8 mm while intra-fraction movement (n = 110) was 0.6 ± 0.4 mm.
This novel semi-automatic 6DoF IR-based system has been shown to compare favourably with existing non-invasive intracranial repeat fixation systems with respect to handling, reproducibility and, more importantly, intra-fraction rigidity. Some advantages are full cranial positioning flexibility for single and fractionated IGRT treatments and possibly increased patient comfort.
PMCID: PMC2890022  PMID: 20504338
19.  Evolution of surface-based deformable image registration for adaptive radiotherapy of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) 
To evaluate the performance of surface-based deformable image registration (DR) for adaptive radiotherapy of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Based on 13 patients with locally advanced NSCLC, CT images acquired at treatment planning, midway and the end of the radio- (n = 1) or radiochemotherapy (n = 12) course were used for evaluation of DR. All CT images were manually [gross tumor volume (GTV)] and automatically [organs-at-risk (OAR) lung, spinal cord, vertebral spine, trachea, aorta, outline] segmented. Contours were transformed into 3D meshes using the Pinnacle treatment planning system and corresponding mesh points defined control points for DR with interpolation within the structures. Using these deformation maps, follow-up CT images were transformed into the planning images and compared with the original planning CT images.
A progressive tumor shrinkage was observed with median GTV volumes of 170 cm3 (range 42 cm3 - 353 cm3), 124 cm3 (19 cm3 - 325 cm3) and 100 cm3 (10 cm3 - 270 cm3) at treatment planning, mid-way and at the end of treatment. Without DR, correlation coefficients (CC) were 0.76 ± 0.11 and 0.74 ± 0.10 for comparison of the planning CT and the CT images acquired mid-way and at the end of treatment, respectively; DR significantly improved the CC to 0.88 ± 0.03 and 0.86 ± 0.05 (p = 0.001), respectively. With manual landmark registration as reference, DR reduced uncertainties on the GTV surface from 11.8 mm ± 5.1 mm to 2.9 mm ± 1.2 mm. Regarding the carina and intrapulmonary vessel bifurcations, DR reduced uncertainties by about 40% with residual errors of 4 mm to 6 mm on average. Severe deformation artefacts were observed in patients with resolving atelectasis and pleural effusion, in one patient, where the tumor was located around large bronchi and separate segmentation of the GTV and OARs was not possible, and in one patient, where no clear shrinkage but more a decay of the tumor was observed.
The surface-based DR performed accurately for the majority of the patients with locally advanced NSCLC. However, morphological response patterns were identified, where results of the surface-based DR are uncertain.
PMCID: PMC2804595  PMID: 20025753
20.  Prospective phase II study of preoperative short-course radiotherapy for rectal cancer with twice daily fractions of 2.9 Gy to a total dose of 29 Gy - Long-term results 
To evaluate clinical outcome after preoperative short-course radiotherapy for rectal cancer with twice daily fractions of 2.9 Gy to a total dose of 29 Gy and adjuvant chemotherapy for pathological stage UICC ≥ II.
118 patients (median age 64 years; male : female ratio 2.5 : 1) with pathological proven rectal cancer (clinical stage II 50%, III 41.5%, IV 8.5%) were treated preoperatively with twice daily radiotherapy of 2.9 Gy single fraction dose to a total dose of 29 Gy; surgery was performed immediately in the following week with total mesorectal excision (TME). Adjuvant 5-FU based chemotherapy was planned for pathological stage UICC ≥ II.
After low anterior resection (70%) and abdominoperineal resection (30%), pathology showed stage UICC I (27.1%), II (25.4%), III (37.3%) and IV (9.3%). Perioperative mortality was 3.4% and perioperative complications were observed in 22.8% of the patients. Adjuvant chemotherapy was given in 75.3% of patients with pathological stage UICC ≥ II. After median follow-up of 46 months, five-year overall survival was 67%, cancer-specific survival 76%, local control 92% and freedom from systemic progression 75%. Late toxicity > grade II was observed in 11% of the patients.
Preoperative short-course radiotherapy, total mesorectal excision and adjuvant chemotherapy for pathological stage UICC ≥ II achieved excellent local control and favorable survival.
PMCID: PMC2806295  PMID: 20025752
21.  Remarks on reporting and recording consistent with the ICRU Reference Dose 
ICRU 50/62 provides a framework to facilitate the reporting of external beam radiotherapy treatments from different institutions. A predominant role is played by points that represent "the PTV dose". However, for new techniques like Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT) - especially step and shoot IMRT - it is difficult to define a point whose dose can be called "characteristic" of the PTV dose distribution. Therefore different volume based methods of reporting of the prescribed dose are in use worldwide. Several of them were compared regarding their usability for IMRT and compatibility with the ICRU Reference Point dose for conformal radiotherapy (CRT) in this study.
The dose distributions of 45 arbitrarily chosen volumes treated by CRT plans and 57 volumes treated by IMRT plans were used for comparison. Some of the IMRT methods distinguish the planning target volume (PTV) and its central part PTVx (PTV minus a margin region of × mm). The reporting of dose prescriptions based on mean and median doses together with the dose to 95% of the considered volume (D95) were compared with each other and in respect of a prescription report with the aid of one or several possible ICRU Reference Points. The correlation between all methods was determined using the standard deviation of the ratio of all possible pairs of prescription reports. In addition the effects of boluses and the characteristics of simultaneous integrated boosts (SIB) were examined.
Two types of methods result in a high degree of consistency with the hitherto valid ICRU dose reporting concept: the median dose of the PTV and the mean dose to the central part of the PTV (PTVx). The latter is similar to the CTV, if no nested PTVs are used and no patient model surfaces are involved. A reporting of dose prescription using the CTV mean dose tends to overestimate the plateau doses of the lower dose plateaus of SIB plans. PTVx provides the possibility to approach biological effects using the standard deviation of the dose within this volume.
The authors advocate reporting the PTV median dose or preferably the mean dose of the central dose plateau PTVx as a potential replacement or successor of the ICRU Reference Dose - both usable for CRT and IMRT.
PMCID: PMC2770462  PMID: 19828045
22.  Absence of GAPDH regulation in tumor-cells of different origin under hypoxic conditions in – vitro 
BMC Research Notes  2009;2:8.
Gene expression studies related to cancer diagnosis and treatment are important. In order to conduct such experiment accurately, absolutely reliable housekeeping genes are essential to normalize cancer related gene expression. The most important characteristics of such genes are their presence in all cells and their expression levels remain relatively constant under different experimental conditions. However, no single gene of this group of genes manifests always stable expression levels under all experimental conditions. Incorrect choice of housekeeping genes leads to interpretation errors of experimental results including evaluation and quantification of pathological gene expression. Here, we examined (a) the degree of GAPDH expression regulation in Hep-1-6 mouse hepatoma and Hep-3-B and HepG2 human hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines as well as in human lung adenocarcinoma epithelial cell line (A-549) in addition to both HT-29, and HCT-116 colon cancer cell lines, under hypoxic conditions in vitro in comparison to other housekeeping genes like β-actin, serving as experimental loading controls, (b) the potential use of GAPDH as a target for tumor therapeutic approaches was comparatively examined in vitro on both protein and mRNA level, by western blot and semi quantitative RT-PCR, respectively.
No hypoxia-induced regulatory effect on GAPDH expression was observed in the cell lines studied in vitro that were; Hep-1-6 mouse hepatoma and Hep-3-B and HepG2 human hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines, Human lung adenocarcinoma epithelial cell line (A-549), both colon cancer cell lines HT-29, and HCT-116.
As it is the case for human hepatocellular carcinoma, mouse hepatoma, human colon cancer, and human lung adenocarcinoma, GAPDH represents an optimal choice of a housekeeping gene and/(or) loading control to determine the expression of hypoxia induced genes in tumors of different origin. The results confirm our previous findings in human glioblastoma that this gene is not an attractive target for tumor therapeutic approaches because of the lack of GAPDH regulation under hypoxia.
PMCID: PMC2646737  PMID: 19144146
23.  Investigation of the usability of conebeam CT data sets for dose calculation 
To investigate the feasibility and accuracy of dose calculation in cone beam CT (CBCT) data sets.
Kilovoltage CBCT images were acquired with the Elekta XVI system, CT studies generated with a conventional multi-slice CT scanner (Siemens Somatom Sensation Open) served as reference images. Material specific volumes of interest (VOI) were defined for commercial CT Phantoms (CATPhan® and Gammex RMI®) and CT values were evaluated in CT and CBCT images. For CBCT imaging, the influence of image acquisition parameters such as tube voltage, with or without filter (F1 or F0) and collimation on the CT values was investigated. CBCT images of 33 patients (pelvis n = 11, thorax n = 11, head n = 11) were compared with corresponding planning CT studies. Dose distributions for three different treatment plans were calculated in CT and CBCT images and differences were evaluated. Four different correction strategies to match CT values (HU) and density (D) in CBCT images were analysed: standard CT HU-D table without adjustment for CBCT; phantom based HU-D tables; patient group based HU-D tables (pelvis, thorax, head); and patient specific HU-D tables.
CT values in the CBCT images of the CATPhan® were highly variable depending on the image acquisition parameters: a mean difference of 564 HU ± 377 HU was calculated between CT values determined from the planning CT and CBCT images. Hence, two protocols were selected for CBCT imaging in the further part of the study and HU-D tables were always specific for these protocols (pelvis and thorax with M20F1 filter, 120 kV; head S10F0 no filter, 100 kV). For dose calculation in real patient CBCT images, the largest differences between CT and CBCT were observed for the standard CT HU-D table: differences were 8.0% ± 5.7%, 10.9% ± 6.8% and 14.5% ± 10.4% respectively for pelvis, thorax and head patients using clinical treatment plans. The use of patient and group based HU-D tables resulted in small dose differences between planning CT and CBCT: 0.9% ± 0.9%, 1.8% ± 1.6%, 1.5% ± 2.5% for pelvis, thorax and head patients, respectively. The application of the phantom based HU-D table was acceptable for the head patients but larger deviations were determined for the pelvis and thorax patient populations.
The generation of three HU-D tables specific for the anatomical regions pelvis, thorax and head and specific for the corresponding CBCT image acquisition parameters resulted in accurate dose calculation in CBCT images. Once these HU-D tables are created, direct dose calculation on CBCT datasets is possible without the need of a reference CT images for pixel value calibration.
PMCID: PMC2648965  PMID: 19087250
24.  Influence of increased target dose inhomogeneity on margins for breathing motion compensation in conformal stereotactic body radiotherapy 
Breathing motion should be considered for stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) of lung tumors. Four-dimensional computer tomography (4D-CT) offers detailed information of tumor motion. The aim of this work is to evaluate the influence of inhomogeneous dose distributions in the presence of breathing induced target motion and to calculate margins for motion compensation.
Based on 4D-CT examinations, the probability density function of pulmonary tumors was generated for ten patients. The time-accumulated dose to the tumor was calculated using one-dimensional (1D) convolution simulations of a 'static' dose distribution and target probability density function (PDF). In analogy to stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), different degrees of dose inhomogeneity were allowed in the target volume: minimum doses of 100% were prescribed to the edge of the target and maximum doses varied between 102% (P102) and 150% (P150). The dose loss due to breathing motion was quantified and margins were added until this loss was completely compensated.
With the time-weighted mean tumor position as the isocentre, a close correlation with a quadratic relationship between the standard deviation of the PDF and the margin size was observed. Increased dose inhomogeneity in the target volume required smaller margins for motion compensation: margins of 2.5 mm, 2.4 mm and 1.3 mm were sufficient for compensation of 11.5 mm motion range and standard deviation of 3.9 mm in P105, P125 and P150, respectively. This effect of smaller margins for increased dose inhomogeneity was observed for all patients. Optimal sparing of the organ-at-risk surrounding the target was achieved for dose prescriptions P105 to P118. The internal target volume concept over-compensated breathing motion with higher than planned doses to the target and increased doses to the surrounding normal tissue.
Treatment planning with inhomogeneous dose distributions in the target volume required smaller margins for compensation of breathing induced target motion with the consequence of lower doses to the surrounding organs-at-risk.
PMCID: PMC2637830  PMID: 19055768
25.  Pre-segmented 2-Step IMRT with subsequent direct machine parameter optimisation – a planning study 
Modern intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) mostly uses iterative optimisation methods. The integration of machine parameters into the optimisation process of step and shoot leaf positions has been shown to be successful. For IMRT segmentation algorithms based on the analysis of the geometrical structure of the planning target volumes (PTV) and the organs at risk (OAR), the potential of such procedures has not yet been fully explored. In this work, 2-Step IMRT was combined with subsequent direct machine parameter optimisation (DMPO-Raysearch Laboratories, Sweden) to investigate this potential.
In a planning study DMPO on a commercial planning system was compared with manual primary 2-Step IMRT segment generation followed by DMPO optimisation. 15 clinical cases and the ESTRO Quasimodo phantom were employed. Both the same number of optimisation steps and the same set of objective values were used. The plans were compared with a clinical DMPO reference plan and a traditional IMRT plan based on fluence optimisation and consequent segmentation. The composite objective value (the weighted sum of quadratic deviations of the objective values and the related points in the dose volume histogram) was used as a measure for the plan quality. Additionally, a more extended set of parameters was used for the breast cases to compare the plans.
The plans with segments pre-defined with 2-Step IMRT were slightly superior to DMPO alone in the majority of cases. The composite objective value tended to be even lower for a smaller number of segments. The total number of monitor units was slightly higher than for the DMPO-plans. Traditional IMRT fluence optimisation with subsequent segmentation could not compete.
2-Step IMRT segmentation is suitable as starting point for further DMPO optimisation and, in general, results in less complex plans which are equal or superior to plans generated by DMPO alone.
PMCID: PMC2612672  PMID: 18990227

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