Department of Dermatology, The First Hospital of China Medical University, Shenyang 110001, China
Background: Human skin or mucosa exposes cells to both an internal and exogeneous thermal environment and the cells survive within a certain range of temperature. Exogeneous hyperthermia has been applied for the treatment of various types of cancers, fungal disease, and warts. Objectives: To determine whether different cellular components in the skin adapt to hyperthermic conditions differentially and further elucidate the mechanisms involved. Materials & methods: Cell lines derived from normal and tumour epithelial cells were treated with hyperthermic conditions and tested for viability (using an MTS assay), apoptosis (using a FITC-conjugated annexin V apoptosis detection kit), and changes in intracellular calcium (using a calcium-sensitive fluorescent single-wavelength dye, Fluo-4 AM). Results: Thermo-resistance of different cell types was different when cells were subjected to heat at 45̊C for 30 minutes. Stronger effects of hyperthermia were noted on cell viability and apoptosis in epidermal cells relative to their malignant counterparts, except for cell lines harbouring human papillomavirus (HPV). Hyperthermia had a much greater effect on cell viability and apoptosis in a HPV-negative cell line compared to HPV-positive cell lines. We further found that hyperthermia treatment resulted in a strong calcium influx which led to apoptotic cells. However, no obvious increase in apoptosis was observed in cells treated with the CRAC channel selective inhibitor, BTP2, before application of hyperthermia in all cell types, except three cervical cell lines harbouring HPV. Conclusion: We propose that hyperthermia results in a CRAC-related strong calcium influx which induces apoptosis, with the exception of HPV-positive cells.