Non-lethal heat treatment of cells results in reduction of tumor initiation and metastatic potential

Yoo Shin Kim, Tae Hoon Lee, Brian E. O'Neill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Abstract Non-lethal hyperthermia is used clinically as adjuvant treatment to radiation, with mixed results. Denaturation of protein during hyperthermia treatment is expected to synergize with radiation damage to cause cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Alternatively, hyperthermia is known to cause tissue level changes in blood flow, increasing the oxygenation and radiosensitivity of often hypoxic tumors. In this study, we elucidate a third possibility, that hyperthermia alters cellular adhesion and mechanotransduction, with particular impact on the cancer stem cell population. We demonstrate that cell heating results in a robust but temporary loss of cancer cell aggressiveness and metastatic potential in mouse models. In vitro, this heating results in a temporary loss in cell mobility, adhesion, and proliferation. Our hypothesis is that the loss of cellular adhesion results in suppression of cancer stem cells and loss of tumor virulence and metastatic potential. Our study suggests that the metastatic potential of cancer is particularly reduced by the effects of heat on cellular adhesion and mechanotransduction. If true, this could help explain both the successes and failures of clinical hyperthermia, and suggest ways to target treatments to those who would most benefit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number33991
Pages (from-to)51-56
Number of pages6
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 20 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioluminescence imaging
  • Cancer stem cell
  • Hyperthermia
  • Metastasis
  • Tumor initiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Non-lethal heat treatment of cells results in reduction of tumor initiation and metastatic potential'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this