AbstractIntratumoural heterogeneity (ITH) contributes to local recurrence following radiotherapy in prostate cancer. Recent studies also show that ecological interactions between heterogeneous tumour cell populations can lead to resistance in chemotherapy. Here, we evaluated whether interactions between heterogenous populations could impact growth and response to radiotherapy in prostate cancer. Using mixed 3D cultures of parental and radioresistant populations from two prostate cancer cell lines and a predator-prey mathematical model to investigate various types of ecological interactions, we show that reciprocal interactions between heterogeneous populations enhance overall growth and reduce radiation sensitivity. The type of interaction influences the time of regrowth after radiation, and, at the population level, alters the survival and cell cycle of each population without eliminating either one. These interactions can arise from oxygen constraints and from cellular cross-talk that alter the tumour microenvironment. These findings suggest that ecological-type interactions are important in radiation response and could be targeted to reduce local recurrence.
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