Advances in the Mechanistic Understanding of Iron Oxide Nanoparticles' Radiosensitizing Properties

Indiana Ternad, Sebastien Penninckx, Valentin Lecomte, Thomas Vangijzegem, Louise Conrard, Stéphane Lucas, Anne-Catherine Heuskin, Carine Michiels, Robert N Muller, Dimitri Stanicki, Sophie Laurent

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Among the plethora of nanosystems used in the field of theranostics, iron oxide nanoparticles (IONPs) occupy a central place because of their biocompatibility and magnetic properties. In this study, we highlight the radiosensitizing effect of two IONPs formulations (namely 7 nm carboxylated IONPs and PEG 5000-IONPs) on A549 lung carcinoma cells when exposed to 225 kV X-rays after 6 h, 24 h and 48 h incubation. The hypothesis that nanoparticles exhibit their radiosensitizing effect by weakening cells through the inhibition of detoxification enzymes was evidenced by thioredoxin reductase activity monitoring. In particular, a good correlation between the amplification effect at 2 Gy and the residual activity of thioredoxin reductase was observed, which is consistent with previous observations made for gold nanoparticles (NPs). This emphasizes that NP-induced radiosensitization does not result solely from physical phenomena but also results from biological events.

Original languageEnglish
Article number201
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2023


  • biological mechanism
  • cancer therapy
  • iron oxide nanoparticles
  • radiosensitization
  • thioredoxin reductase
  • X-ray irradiation


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