SU-E-T-581: On the Value of LET as a Radiation Quality Descriptor for RBE




To investigate the relationship between linear energy transfer (LET) and relative biological effectiveness (RBE) for protons and light ions, and the corresponding role of LET as a descriptor of radiation quality of hadron therapy.


Monte Carlo (MC) proton and light ion (He, Li, C) tracks with LET < 30 eV nm-1 were generated in an event-by-event mode. They were overlaid on a cell nucleus model containing 6×109 nucleotide base pairs using an isotropic irradiation procedure that provides electronic equilibrium. Strand breaks (sbs) were scored in the DNA sugar-phosphate groups and further sub-classified into single or double sbs (ssbs or dsbs). Distributions of ssbs and dsbs for 2 Gy fractions were calculated to estimate RBE for the induction of initial dsbs with reference to 60Co. Additionally, sbs were classified based on their complexity (i.e. the number of sbs in each cluster).


An increase in LET for light ions of the same atomic number or a decrease in atomic number for ions of the same LET resulted in a lower kinetic energy of emitted secondary electrons. The clustering of DNA damage was more pronounced as reflected by the increase in proton RBE from ∼ 1.75 to 4 for LET values of 7 to 28 eV nm-1. A significant RBE decrease between protons, He, Li and C ions of the same LET was also noticed as function of the atomic number. Significant differences in ssbs and dsbs complexities were also seen for particles with the same LET, potentially supporting a clustering-based radiation quality descriptor.


The LET-RBE relationships were simulated for proton and light ions and exhibited expected trends, including different RBEs for particles with the same LET but different atomic numbers. A complexity based radiation quality descriptor may allow better differentiation of RBE between radiation fields of similar LET.

We would like to acknowledge support from the Fonds de recherche du Quebec Sante (FRQS), from the CREATE Medical Physics Research Training Network grant (number 432290) of NSERC, support from NSERC under grants RGPIN 397711-11 and RGPIN-2014-06475 and support from CIHR under grants MOP-114910, MOP-136774 and MOP-102550.