LET-Dependent Intertrack Yields in Proton Irradiation at Ultra-High Dose Rates Relevant for FLASH Therapy

Radiat Res. 2020 Oct 2;194(4):351-362. doi: 10.1667/RADE-20-00084.1.


FLASH radiotherapy delivers a high dose (≥10 Gy) at a high rate (≥40 Gy/s). In this way, particles are delivered in pulses as short as a few nanoseconds. At that rate, intertrack reactions between chemical species produced within the same pulse may affect the heterogeneous chemistry stage of water radiolysis. This stochastic process suits the capabilities of the Monte Carlo method, which can model intertrack effects to aid in radiobiology research, including the design and interpretation of experiments. In this work, the TOPAS-nBio Monte Carlo track-structure code was expanded to allow simulations of intertrack effects in the chemical stage of water radiolysis. Simulation of the behavior of radiolytic yields over a long period of time (up to 50 s) was verified by simulating radiolysis in a Fricke dosimeter irradiated by 60Co γ rays. In addition, LET-dependent G values of protons delivered in single squared pulses of widths, 1 ns, 1 µs and 10 µs, were obtained and compared to simulations using no intertrack considerations. The Fricke simulation for the calculated G value of Fe3+ ion at 50 s was within 0.4% of the accepted value from ICRU Report 34. For LET-dependent G values at the end of the chemical stage, intertrack effects were significant at LET values below 2 keV/µm. Above 2 keV/µm the reaction kinetics remained limited locally within each track and thus, effects of intertrack reactions remained low. Therefore, when track structure simulations are used to investigate the biological damage of FLASH irradiation, these intertrack reactions should be considered. The TOPAS-nBio framework with the expansion to intertrack chemistry simulation provides a useful tool to assist in this task.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cobalt Radioisotopes
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Electrons
  • Ferrous Compounds / radiation effects
  • Gamma Rays
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Linear Energy Transfer
  • Models, Biological*
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Proton Therapy / methods*
  • Protons
  • Radiometry / instrumentation
  • Radiotherapy Dosage*
  • Stochastic Processes
  • Sulfuric Acids


  • Cobalt Radioisotopes
  • Ferrous Compounds
  • Protons
  • Sulfuric Acids
  • ferrous sulfate
  • Cobalt-60
  • sulfuric acid