Application of a simple DNA damage model developed for electrons to proton irradiation

Yusuke Matsuya, Takeshi Kai, Alessio Parisi, Yoshii Yuji

Research outputpeer-review


Proton beam therapy allows irradiating tumor volumes with reduced side effects on normal tissues with respect to conventional x-ray radiotherapy. Biological effects such as cell killing after proton beam irradiations depend on the proton kinetic energy, which is intrinsically related to early DNA damage induction. As such, DNA damage estimation based on Monte Carlo simulations is a research topic of worldwide interest. Such simulation is a mean of investigating the mechanisms of DNA strand break formations. However, past modellings considering chemical processes and DNA structures require long calculation times. Particle and heavy ion transport system (PHITS) is one of the general-purpose Monte Carlo codes that can simulate track structure of protons, meanwhile cannot handle radical dynamics simulation in liquid water. It also includes a simple model enabling the efficient estimation of DNA damage yields only from the spatial distribution of ionizations and excitations without DNA geometry, which was originally developed for electron track-structure simulations. In this study, we investigated the potential application of the model to protons without any modification. The yields of single-strand breaks, double-strand breaks (DSBs) and the complex DSBs were assessed as functions of the proton kinetic energy. The PHITS-based estimation showed that the DSB yields increased as the linear energy transfer (LET) increased, and reproduced the experimental and simulated yields of various DNA damage types induced by protons with LET up to about 30 keV μm−1. These results suggest that the current DNA damage model implemented in PHITS is sufficient for estimating DNA lesion yields induced after protons irradiation except at very low energies (below 1 MeV). This model contributes to evaluating early biological impacts in radiation therapy. © 2022 Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine.
Original languageEnglish
Article number215017
Number of pages13
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number21
StatePublished - 7 Nov 2022

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