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Weapon against tumors, boost for the immune systemcaffeine in coffee vs black tea second column) exhibit colocalization of both fluorescent signals in merged image (third column). (B) In untreated control cells, the Mag-Fluo-4 fluorescence in the ER remains constant. (C) Challenging cells with 2 µM Tg (D) or irradiating cells with 5 Gy x rays elicits progressive decrease in Mag-Fluo-4 fluorescence in ER with concomitant increase in cytosol. Times in images denote time point of imaging after respective treatment. Corresponding mean values of relative Mag-Fluo-4 fluorescence (± SD) in ROI (white circle in C) over ER in untreated control cells (E), cells exposed to 2 μM Tg (F), and cells irradiated with 5 Gy x rays (G). Start of imaging after treatments are indicated by an arrow. Data in E–G were normalized to fluorescence values at start of analysis from ≥35 cells per treatment in ≥7 experiments. Scale bars, 10 µm. Credit: <i>Journal of General Physiology</i> (2022). DOI: 10.1085/jgp.202112865″ width=”800″ height=”530″>

Radiation therapy is a proven approach to destroying tumors. However, it is possible that it might be able to do even more in the future—namely stimulate the immune system at the same time and so fight cancer even more intensively. The foundations for this have been laid by researchers led by TU Darmstadt. They have found that X-rays trigger a calcium signaling cascade in cells of the immune system. The results have now been published in the Journal of General Physiology.

Ionizing radiation is successfully used in cancer treatment to kill tumor cells. Over the past two decades, it has become clear that treatment success can be increased even further if the radiation treatment is combined with measures to stimulate the immune system. In this context, a new study being carried out with biologists from TU Darmstadt and the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research plus researchers from the clinics of the Frankfurt and Homburg universities is attracting attention. The researchers report in the Journal of General Physiology that the desired stimulating effect on the immune system is triggered directly when T-cells are also irradiated by X-rays. Dominique Tandl, researcher at the Department of Biology at TU Darmstadt, and her co-authors demonstrate in the recently published study that clinically relevant doses of X-rays in T lymphocytes trigger a signaling cascade that is typical of the immune reaction that begins with the release of the messenger substance calcium (Ca2+) from internal stores.

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