A novel high-throughput irradiator for in vitro radiation sensitivity bioassays

Phys Med Biol. 2014 Mar 21;59(6):1459-70. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/59/6/1459. Epub 2014 Feb 28.


This paper describes the development and characterization of a fully automated in vitro cell irradiator using an electronic brachytherapy source to perform radiation sensitivity bioassays. This novel irradiator allows complex variable dose and dose rate schemes to be delivered to multiple wells of 96-well culture plates used in standard biological assays. The Xoft Axxent® eBx™ was chosen as the x-ray source due to its ability to vary tube current up to 300 µA for a 50 kVp spectrum using clinical surface applicators. Translation of the multiwell plate across the fixed radiation field is achieved using a precision motor driven computer controlled positioning system. A series of measurements was performed to characterize dosimetric performance of the system. Measurements have shown that the radiation output measured with an end window ionization chamber is stable between operating currents of 50-300 µA. In addition, radiochromic film was used to characterize the field flatness and symmetry. The average field flatness in the in-plane and cross-plane direction was 2.9 ± 1.0% and 4.0 ± 1.7%, respectively. The average symmetry in the in-plane and cross-plane direction was 1.8 ± 0.9% and 1.6 ± 0.5%, respectively. The optimal focal spot resolution at the cellular plane was determined by measuring sequential irradiations on radiochromic film for three different well spacing schemes. It was determined that the current system can irradiate every other well with negligible impact on the radiation field characteristics. Finally, a performance comparison between this system and a common cabinet irradiator is presented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Assay / instrumentation*
  • Brachytherapy*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Radiation Tolerance*
  • Radiometry