Responses of a heterogeneous human colon adenocarcinoma moduel tumor system to in vitro hyperthermic treatment at various temperatures have been studied. This model tumor system consists of an original tumor line (DLD-1) obtained from surgical biopsy, and two derivative subpopulations termed clones A and D. These 3 tumor cell populations differ in many properties, including karyotype and DNA content, production of specific antigens, and sensitivities to other cytotoxic agents such as chemotherapeutic drugs and X-irradiation. In these experiments, exponentially growing tumor cells were exposed to hyperthermia (42.2, 42.5, 43.0, 44.0, or 45.0°) for graded time periods. A single-hit, multitarget equation was used to express the dependence of survival on time at a given temperature, and values for extrapolation numbers, quasi-threshold time (min), and T0 (mean lethal time; min) were obtained for the initial regions of survival. At the lower temperatures of 42.2 and 42.5°, biphasic survival curves were obtained for all three tumor lines and, as a consequence, a second mean lethal time (T0,f) was also determined for the final thermal-resistant protion of the survival curves. Using the T0 values as an index of relative resistance, values at 42.2 and 42.5° indicated that, in this temperature region, the parent (DLD-1) line was the most sensitive, the clone A line showed intermediate sensitivity, and the clone D line was the most resistant. In the thermally resistant portion of the survival curve, T0 values indicated that the clone A subpopulation was the most sensitive, the DLD-1 line showed intermediate sensitivity, and the clone D tumor subpopulation remained the most resistant. At the higher temperatures of 43, 44, and 45°, in which thermotolerance is not observed during heat treatment, values for T0 indicated the parent (DLD-1) tumor line was still the most sensitive tumor line, and the clone A and clone D lines showed approximately equal resistance. These data indicate that significant differences may exist among subpopulations of heterogeneous tumors in their survival responses to hyperthermia.

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Research supported by USPHS Grants CA 25687, CA 13943, and CA 20892 awarded by the National Cancer Institute, Department of Health and Human Services.

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