A parameter sensitivity study for simulating DNA damage after proton irradiation using TOPAS-nBio

Phys Med Biol. 2020 Apr 23;65(8):085015. doi: 10.1088/1361-6560/ab7a6b.


Monte Carlo (MC) track structure simulation tools are commonly used for predicting radiation induced DNA damage by modeling the physical and chemical reactions at the nanometer scale. However, the outcome of these MC simulations is particularly sensitive to the adopted parameters which vary significantly across studies. In this study, a previously developed full model of nuclear DNA was used to describe the DNA geometry. The TOPAS-nBio MC toolkit was used to investigate the impact of physics and chemistry models as well as three key parameters (the energy threshold for direct damage, the chemical stage time length, and the probability of damage between hydroxyl radical reactions with DNA) on the induction of DNA damage. Our results show that the difference in physics and chemistry models alone can cause differences up to 34% and 16% in the DNA double strand break (DSB) yield, respectively. Additionally, changing the direct damage threshold, chemical stage length, and hydroxyl damage probability can cause differences of up to 28%, 51%, and 71% in predicted DSB yields, respectively, for the configurations in this study.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Nucleus / genetics
  • Cell Nucleus / radiation effects
  • DNA Damage*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Protons*


  • Protons