Understanding radiation response and cell cycle variation in brain tumour cells using Raman spectroscopy

Iona E. Hill, Marie Boyd, Kirsty Milligan, Cerys A. Jenkins, Annette Sorensen, Andrew Jirasek, Duncan Graham, Karen Faulds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
42 Downloads (Pure)


Radiation therapy is currently utilised in the treatment of approximately 50% of cancer patients. A move towards patient tailored radiation therapy would help to improve the treatment outcome for patients as the inter-patient and intra-patient heterogeneity of cancer leads to large differences in treatment responses. In radiation therapy, a typical treatment outcome is cell cycle arrest which leads to cell cycle synchronisation. As treatment is typically given over multiple fractions it is important to understand how variation in the cell cycle can affect treatment response. Raman spectroscopy has previously been assessed as a method for monitoring radiation response in cancer cells and has shown promise in detecting the subtle biochemical changes following radiation exposure. This study evaluated Raman spectroscopy as a potential tool for monitoring cellular response to radiation in synchronised versus unsynchronised UVW human glioma cells in vitro. Specifically, it was hypothesised that the UVW cells would demonstrate a greater radiation resistance if the cell cycle phase of the cells was synchronised to the G1/S boundary prior to radiation exposure. Here we evaluated whether Raman spectroscopy, combined with cell cycle analysis and DNA damage and repair analysis (γ-H2AX assay), could discriminate the subtle cellular changes associated with radiation response. Raman spectroscopy combined with principal component analysis (PCA) was able to show the changes in radiation response over 24 hours following radiation exposure. Spectral changes were assigned to variations in protein, specifically changes in protein signals from amides as well as changes in lipid expression. A different response was observed between cells synchronised in the cell cycle and unsynchronised cells. After 24 hours following irradiation, the unsynchronised cells showed greater spectral changes compared to the synchronised cells demonstrating that the cell cycle plays an important role in the radiation resistance or sensitivity of the UVW cells, and that radiation resistance could be induced by controlling the cell cycle. One of the main aims of cancer treatment is to stop the proliferation of cells by controlling or halting progression through the cell cycle, thereby highlighting the importance of controlling the cell cycle when studying the effects of cancer treatments such as radiation therapy. Raman spectroscopy has been shown to be a useful tool for evaluating the changes in radiation response when the cell cycle phase is controlled and therefore highlighting its potential for assessing radiation response and resistance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2594-2608
Number of pages15
Issue number11
Early online date1 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2023


  • radiation therapy
  • cell cycle
  • brain tumour
  • cancer cells


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