Fluorescent nuclear track detectors for alpha radiation microdosimetry

J. J.M. Kouwenberg*, H. T. Wolterbeek, A. G. Denkova, A. J.J. Bos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: While alpha microdosimetry dates back a couple of decades, the effects of localized energy deposition of alpha particles are often still unclear since few comparative studies have been performed. Most modern alpha microdosimetry studies rely for large parts on simulations, which negatively impacts both the simplicity of the calculations and the reliability of the results. A novel microdosimetry method based on the Fluorescent Nuclear Track Detector, a versatile tool that can measure individual alpha particles at sub-micron resolution, yielding accurate energy, fluence and dose rate measurements, was introduced to address these issues. Methods: Both the detectors and U87 glioblastoma cell cultures were irradiated using an external Am241 alpha source. The alpha particle tracks measured with a Fluorescent Nuclear Track Detector were used together with high resolution 3D cell geometries images to calculate the nucleus dose distribution in the U87 glioblastoma cells. The experimentally obtained microdosimetry parameters were thereafter applied to simulations of 3D U87 cells cultures (spheroids) with various spatial distributions of isotopes to evaluate the effect of the nucleus dose distribution on the expected cell survival. Results: The new experimental method showed good agreement with the analytically derived nucleus dose distributions. Small differences (<5%) in the relative effectiveness were found for isotopes in the cytoplasm and on the cell membrane versus external irradiation, while isotopes located in the nucleus or on the nuclear membrane showed a substantial increase in relative effectiveness (33 - 51%). Conclusions: The ease-of-use, good accuracy and use of experimentally derived characteristics of the radiation field make this method superior to conventional simulation-based microdosimetry studies. Considering the uncertainties found in alpha radionuclide carriers in-vivo and in-vitro, together with the large contributions from the relative biological effectiveness and the oxygen enhancement ratio, it is expected that only carriers penetrating or surrounding the cell nucleus will substantially benefit from microdosimetry.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalRadiation Oncology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2018


  • Alpha radiation
  • Alpha radionuclide therapy
  • Fluorescent nuclear track detector
  • FNTD
  • Microdosimetry
  • Spheroid


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