The effect of radiation in combination with carcinogens on the growth of normal urothelium in explant culture
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Radiation is known to be carcinogenic to humans but attempts to demonstrate the process using human tissue culture models have met with little success. In the present study explants were established from urothelium and exposed to radiation and a range of chemical carcinogens, suspected promotor or metabolic agents. The resulting outgrowth was monitored for growth rate, proliferating epithelial fraction and development and differentiation of endothelial cells in culture. The results indicate that enhanced growth of epithelial cells can be seen when cultures are irradiated in the presence of various nitrosamines, benzo(a)pyrene or aniline. Radiation alone reduced the overall growth area measured but several proliferative foci developed on the resulting outgrowth. Their ultrastructural appearance reveals that they carry severe mitochondrial damage and exposure of treated cultures to metabolic inhibitors confirms that their respiration is defective. Endothelial cells proliferated over the surface of the epithelial monolayer and both the number and the degree of differentiation of the endothelial cells increased with increasing dose up to 10 Gy. While the cultures are not immortalised by the treatment, it appears that the epithelial cells have an extended lifespan (division capacity) and that a subpopulation has undergone a number of premalignant changes. Changes in endothelial cell proliferation also occur.
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