Interplay between the gold nanoparticle sub-cellular localization, size, and the photon energy for radiosensitization

Eli Lechtman, Jean Philippe Pignol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


There are large variations in the reported efficiency of gold nanoparticle (GNP) radiosensitization. We have previously reported on a predictive model, which accounts for the detailed Auger and photoelectron tracks to calculate the cell survival probability. After validating our model using PC-3 cells incubated with 2 mg/ml of 30 nm GNPs and irradiated with 100 kVp or 300 kVp beams, we evaluated the interplay between photon energy, GNP size (1.9 and 100 nm) and sub-cellular localization. Experiments were in excellent agreement with the model. In predictive modeling, using a 100 kVp source and 1.9 nm nanoparticles, GNP localization had a significant impact on cell survival. A sensitizer enhancement ratio of 1.34 was achieved when GNPs were localized outside the cells, increasing to 2.56 when GNPs were also distributed in the cytoplasm and nucleus. Using a 300 kVp source, which emits photons mainly above the gold K-edge, the dependence on GNP localization and size was barely detectable, since long ranged electrons dominate the energy deposition. In summary, achieving intracellular uptake with targeted-GNPs can significantly enhance radiosensitization for photon energies below the gold K-edge, where Auger electrons contribute significantly to the local energy deposition. For higher energies, this is much less important.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13268
Number of pages6
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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