In-silico calculations of DNA damage induced by α-particles in the 224Ra DaRT decay chain for a better understanding of the radiobiological effectiveness of this treatment

Publication Name

Physica Medica


Diffusing alpha-emitters radiation Therapy (DaRT) is an interstitial brachytherapy technique using 224Ra seeds. For accurate treatment planning a good understanding of the early DNA damage due to α-particles is required. Geant4-DNA was used to calculate the initial DNA damage and radiobiological effectiveness due to α-particles with linear energy transfer (LET) values in the range 57.5–225.9 keV/μm from the 224Ra decay chain. The impact of DNA base pair density on DNA damage has been modelled, as this parameter varies between human cell lines. Results show that the quantity and complexity of DNA damage changes with LET as expected. Indirect damage, due to water radical reactions with the DNA, decreases and becomes less significant at higher LET values as shown in previous studies. As expected, the yield of complex double strand breaks (DSBs), which are harder for a cell to repair, increases approximately linearly with LET. The level of complexity of DSBs and radiobiological effectiveness have been found to increase with LET as expected. The quantity of DNA damage has been shown to increase for increased DNA density in the expected base pair density range of human cells. The change in damage yield as a function of base pair density is largest for higher LET α-particles, an increase of over 50% for individual strand breaks between 62.7 and 127.4 keV/μm. This change in yield shows that the DNA base pair density is an important parameter for modelling DNA damage particularly at higher LET where the DNA damage is greatest and most complex.

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UK Research and Innovation



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