Estimation of microscopic dose enhancement factor around gold nanoparticles by Monte Carlo calculations

  • Jones B
  • Krishnan S
  • Cho S
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PURPOSE: An approach known as gold nanoparticle-aided radiation therapy (GNRT) is a recent development in radiation therapy which seeks to make a tumor more susceptible to radiation damage by modifying its photon interaction properties with an infusion of gold nanoparticles (GNPs). The purpose of this study was to quantify the energy deposition due to secondary electrons from GNPs on a nanometer scale and to calculate the corresponding microscopic dose enhancement factor around GNPs. METHODS: The Monte Carlo code EGSnrc was modified to obtain the spectra of secondary electrons from atoms of gold approximating GNPs and molecules of water under photon irradiation of a tumor loaded with GNPs. Six different photon sources were used: 125I, 103Pd, 169Yb, 192Ir, 50 kVp, and 6 MV x rays. Treating the scored electron spectra as point sources within an infinite medium of water, the event-by-event Monte Carlo code NOREC was used to quantify the radial dose distribution, giving rise to gold/water electron dose point kernels and corresponding microscopic dose enhancement factors. These kernels were applied to a test case based on a scanning electron microscope image of a GNP distribution in tissue, enabling the determination of the microscopic dose enhancement at each dose point. RESULTS: For the lower energy sources 125I, 103Pd, 169Yb, and 50 kVp, the secondary electron fluence within a GNP-loaded tumor was increased by as much as two orders of magnitude, leading to two orders of magnitude increase in electron energy deposition over radial distances up to 10 microm. For the test case considered, the dose was enhanced by factors ranging from 2 to 20 within 5 microm of GNPs, and by 5% as far away as 30 microm. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates a remarkable microscopic dose enhancement due to GNPs and low energy photon sources. By quantifying the microscopic dose enhancement factor for a given photon source as a function of distance from GNPs, it also enables the selection of either a passive or an active tumor targeting strategy using GNPs which will maximize the radiobiological benefit from GNRT.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Monte Carlo methods
  • gold nanoparticles
  • microscopic dose enhancement
  • radiation therapy

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  • Bernard L. Jones

  • Sunil Krishnan

  • Sang Hyun Cho

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