This work investigates how doses to cellular targets depend on cell morphology, as well as relations between cellular doses and doses to bulk tissues and water. Multicellular models of five healthy and cancerous soft tissues are developed based on typical values of cell compartment sizes, elemental compositions and number densities found in the literature. Cells are modelled as two concentric spheres with nucleus and cytoplasm compartments. Monte Carlo simulations are used to calculate the absorbed dose to the nucleus and cytoplasm for incident photon energies of 20-370 keV, relevant for brachytherapy, diagnostic radiology, and out-of-field radiation in higher-energy external beam radiotherapy. Simulations involving cell clusters, single cells and single nuclear cavities are carried out for cell radii between 5 and 10 μm, and nuclear radii between 2 and 9 μm. Seven nucleus and cytoplasm elemental compositions representative of animal cells are considered. The presence of a cytoplasm, extracellular matrix and surrounding cells can affect the nuclear dose by up to 13%. Differences in cell and nucleus size can affect dose to the nucleus (cytoplasm) of the central cell in a cluster of 13 cells by up to 13% (8%). Furthermore, the results of this study demonstrate that neither water nor bulk tissue are reliable substitutes for subcellular targets for incident photon energies <50 keV: nuclear (cytoplasm) doses differ from dose-to-medium by up to 32% (18%), and from dose-to-water by up to 21% (8%). The largest differences between dose descriptors are seen for the lowest incident photon energies; differences are less than 3% for energies ≥90 keV. The sensitivity of results with regard to the parameters of the microscopic tissue structure model and cell model geometry, and the importance of the nucleus and cytoplasm as targets for radiation-induced cell death emphasize the importance of accurate models for cellular dosimetry studies.

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Keywords cellular dosimetry, kilovoltage photon irradiation, Monte Carlo, multicellular model
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Journal Physics in Medicine and Biology
Oliver, P.A.K., & Thomson, R.M. (2017). A Monte Carlo study of macroscopic and microscopic dose descriptors for kilovoltage cellular dosimetry. Physics in Medicine and Biology, 62(4), 1417–1437. doi:10.1088/1361-6560/aa5136