Tumor irradiation induces modifications in the interaction of surviving target cells with immune cells. This interaction is mediated by adhesion molecules, whose expression can be strongly altered by radiation treatment. Here the probably of K562 tumor cells for lymphocyte binding was studied after exposure of target cells to different doses of gamma-radiation. Results were correlated to the expression of ICAM-1 and LFA-3 adhesion molecules on target cells. Radiation treatment enhanced the expression of both ICAM-1 and LFA-3 on the surface of target cells in a dose and time of culture-dependent fashion, reaching a maximum 24 hrs postirradiation, when also lymphocyte binding was increased. 10-30 Gy irradiation of K562 cells in vitro induces after 24 hrs, an up-regulation of ICAM-1 and LFA-3 expression that, in turn, increase lymphocyte binding, making tumor cells more exposed to cytotoxic attack. The progressive morphological damage induced by radiation, documented by the scattering singlas in flow cytometry and by electron microscopy analysis of irradiated K562 cells, induced, particularly at delayed times of culture in high doses irradiated cells, alterations of the target cell surface that might prevent the correct interaction with immune cells.
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