Molecular parameters of hyperthermia for radiosensitization

Tej K. Pandita, Shruti Pandita, Sukesh R. Bhaumik

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Hyperthermia is a potent sensitizer of cell killing by ionizing radiation (IR), however, the precise mechanism of heat-induced cell death is not yet clear. Radiosensitization can be attributed to the fact that heat is a pleiotropic damaging agent, affecting multiple cell components to varying degrees by altering protein structures, thus influencing the DNA damage response. Hyperthermia alone induces several steps associated with IR signaling in cells. For example, hyperthermia enhances ATM kinase activity and increases cellular ATM autophosphorylation. This prior activation of ATM or other components of the IR-induced signaling pathway by heat interferes with the normal IR-induced signaling required for chromosomal DNA double-strand break repair, thus resulting in increased cell killing post irradiation. Hyperthermia also induces heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) synthesis and enhances telomerase activity. HSP70 expression is associated with radioresistance. Inactivation of HSP70 and telomerase increases residual DNA DSBs post IR exposure, which correlates with increased cell killing, supporting the role of HSP70 and telomerase in IR-induced DNA damage repair. Thus, hyperthermia influences several molecular parameters involved in sensitizing tumor cells to radiation and can enhance the potential of targeted radiotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-251
Number of pages17
JournalCritical Reviews in Eukaryotic Gene Expression
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • ATM
  • DNA damage repair
  • Heat shock
  • HSP70
  • Signaling
  • Transcription

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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