The efficacy of conventional radiation therapy for gastric cancer is controversial. In this study, we evaluated the in vitro and in vivo effects of continuous low-dose-rate irradiation by I-125 seeds on different histological types of gastric cancer cell lines. Three human gastric cancer cell lines (MKN74, MKN45, and NUGC4) were treated with or without continuous low-dose irradiation by I-125 seeds in vitro and in vivo. Cell viability, apoptosis, caspase-3 assay, and cell-cycle distribution were examined in vitro. Body weight and tumor volumes of BALB/c nude mice bearing MKN74, MKN45, and NUGC4 gastric cancer xenografts were measured, and in vivo cell proliferation and apoptosis assays were performed by Ki67 and TUNEL staining, respectively. Continuous low-dose-rate irradiation by I-125 seeds reduced cell viability and induced cell apoptosis through the activation of caspase-3, and led to the accumulation of cells in the G2/M phase in vitro. It also suppressed the growth of gastric cancer xenografts in nude mice, while inhibiting cell proliferation and inducing apoptosis as demonstrated by Ki67 and TUNEL staining. Therefore, our data suggest that continuous low-dose-rate irradiation by I-125 seeds could be a promising new option for gastric cancer treatment, regardless of histological origin.
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