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Int J Radiat Biol. 2000 Oct;76(10):1357-64.

Gold microspheres: a selective technique for producing biologically effective dose enhancement.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA 19111, USA.



To investigate dose enhancement and radiosensitization associated with electrons produced and scattered from gold particles suspended in cells in vitro and with tumour cells growing in vivo irradiated with low-energy photons.


CHO-K1, EMT-6 and DU-145 cells were irradiated with kilovoltage X-ray and Cs-137 beams in slowly stirred suspensions in the presence of various concentrations of gold particles ( 1.5-3.0 microm); cell survival was measured by clonogenic assay. Gold particles were injected directly into EMT-6 tumours growing in scid mice prior to their irradiation. Tumour cell killing was assayed by an in vivo-in vitro technique.


Dose enhancement was confirmed by both Fricke dosimetry and cell killing for 100, 140, 200 and 240 kVp X-rays, but not for Cs-137 gamma-rays. For the chemical dosimeter, a dose enhancement (DMF) of 1.42 was measured for 1% gold particle solutions irradiated with 200 kVp X-rays. When rodent and human cells were irradiated in the presence of 1% gold particles, DMF values at the 10% survival level ranged from 1.36 to 1.54, with an overall average value of 1.43. Preliminary attempts to deliver these gold particles to tumour cells in vivo by intra-tumour injection resulted in modest radiosensitization but extremely heterogeneous distribution.


An increased biologically effective dose can be produced by gold microspheres suspended in cell culture or distributed in tumour tissue exposed to kilovoltage photon beams. With the increasing use of interstitial brachytherapy with isotopes that produce low-energy photons, high-Z particles might find a role for significantly improving the therapeutic ratio.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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