ARTICLE ABSTRACTTargeted α-particle–emitting radionuclides have great potential for the treatment of a broad range of cancers at different stages of progression. A platform that accurately measures cancer cellular sensitivity to α-particle irradiation could guide and accelerate clinical translation. Here, we performed high-content profiling of cellular survival following exposure to α-particles emitted from radium-223 (223Ra) using 28 genetically diverse human tumor cell lines. Significant variation in cellular sensitivity across tumor cells was observed. 223Ra was significantly more potent than sparsely ionizing irradiation, with a median relative biological effectiveness of 10.4 (IQR: 8.4–14.3). Cells that are the most resistant to γ radiation, such as Nrf2 gain-of-function mutant cells, were sensitive to α-particles. Combining these profiling results with genetic features, we identified several somatic copy-number alterations, gene mutations, and the basal expression of gene sets that correlated with radiation survival. Activating mutations in PIK3CA, a frequent event in cancer, decreased sensitivity to 223Ra. The identification of cellular and genetic determinants of sensitivity to 223Ra may guide the clinical incorporation of targeted α-particle emitters in the treatment of several cancer types.
These findings address limitations in the preclinical guidance and prediction of radionuclide tumor sensitivity by identifying intrinsic cellular and genetic determinants of cancer cell survival following exposure to α-particle irradiation.See related commentary by Sgouros, p. 5479