Energy optimization in gold nanoparticle enhanced radiation therapy

Phys Med Biol. 2018 Jun 25;63(13):135001. doi: 10.1088/1361-6560/aacab6.


Gold nanoparticles (GNPs) have been demonstrated as radiation dose enhancing agents. Kilovoltage external photon beams have been shown to yield the largest enhancement due to the high interaction probability with gold. While orthovoltage irradiations are feasible and promising, they suffer from a reduced tissue penetrating power. This study quantifies the effect of varying photon beam energies on various beam arrangements, body, tumor, and cellular GNP uptake geometries. Cell survival was modeled based on our previously developed GNP-local effect model with radial doses calculated using the TOPAS-nBio Monte Carlo code. Cell survival curves calculated for tumor sites with GNPs were used to calculate the relative biological effectiveness (RBE)-weighted dose. In order to evaluate the plan quality, the ratio of the mean dose between the tumor and normal tissue for 50-250 kVp beams with GNPs was compared to the standard of care using 6 MV photon beams without GNPs for breast and brain tumors. For breast using a single photon beam, kV + GNP was found to yield up to 2.73 times higher mean RBE-weighted dose to the tumor than two tangential megavoltage beams while delivering the same dose to healthy tissue. For irradiation of brain tumors using multiple photon beams, the GNP dose enhancement was found to be effective for energies above 50 keV. A small tumor at shallow depths was found to be the most effective treatment conditions for GNP enhanced radiation therapy. GNP uptake distributions in the cell (with or without nuclear uptake) and the beam arrangement were found to be important factors in determining the optimal photon beam energy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • Cell Survival / radiation effects
  • Gold / chemistry*
  • Gold / metabolism
  • Gold / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Metal Nanoparticles / therapeutic use*
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Photons / therapeutic use
  • Radiotherapy / methods*


  • Gold