Ana Teresa Pinto, Ana Beatriz Machado, Hugo Osório, Marta Laranjeiro Pinto, Rui Vitorino, Gonçalo Justino, Cátia Santa, Flávia Castro, Tânia Cruz, Carla Rodrigues, Jorge Lima, José Luís R Sousa, Ana Patrícia Cardoso, Rita Figueira, Armanda Monteiro, Margarida Marques, Bruno Manadas, Jarne Pauwels, Kris Gevaert, Marc Mareel, Sónia Rocha, Tiago Duarte, Maria José Oliveira

To identify a molecular signature of macrophages exposed to clinically relevant ionizing radiation (IR) doses, mirroring radiotherapy sessions. Methods: Human monocyte-derived macrophages were exposed to 2 Gy/ fraction/ day for 5 days, mimicking one week of cancer patient’s radiotherapy. Protein expression profile by proteomics was performed. Results: A gene ontology analysis revealed that radiation-induced protein changes are associated with metabolic alterations, which were further supported by a reduction of both cellular ATP levels and glucose uptake. Most of the radiation-induced deregulated targets exhibited a decreased expression, as was the case of cathepsin D, a lysosomal protease associated with cell death, which was validated by Western blot. We also found that irradiated macrophages exhibited an increased expression of the transferrin receptor 1 (TfR1), which is responsible for the uptake of transferrin-bound iron. TfR1 upregulation was also found in tumor-associated mouse macrophages upon tumor irradiation. In vitro irradiated macrophages also presented a trend for increased divalent metal transporter 1 (DMT1), which transports iron from the endosome to the cytosol, and a significant increase in iron release. Conclusions: Irradiated macrophages present lower ATP levels and glucose uptake, and exhibit decreased cathepsin D expression, while increasing TfR1 expression and altering iron metabolism.