Radiation fields backscattered from material interfaces: I. Biological effectiveness

D. L. Zellmer, J. D. Chapman, C. C. Stobbe, F. Xu, I. J. Das

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations


Confluent cultures of CHO-K1 and CHO-xrs5 cells were irradiated attached to 6 μm Mylar with 137Cs γ rays and 200 kVp X rays adjacent to scattering materials consisting of polystyrene, glass, aluminum, copper, tin and lead. The absorbed dose in cell nuclei was estimated from measurements of backscattered dose made with a parallel-plate ion chamber with a 5-μm Mylar window and a gas volume whose thickness was equivalent to -2.6 μm of cells or tissue. Cell inactivation after various doses was measured by clonogenic assays after trypsinization and enumeration. Survival curves constructed from data pooled from at least two independent experiments were best fitted to a linear-quadratic (LQ) or a linear equation for CHO-K1 and CHO-xrs5 cells, respectively. An average distance of 9.3 ± 1.9 μm from the scattering surfaces to the midline of nuclei for both the cell lines was estimated from electron micrographs of fixed cell sections. The major differences in biological effect observed when the cells were irradiated adjacent to these materials could be largely explained by the differences in the physical dose. Further analyses using the LQ equation suggested additional biological effects with implications for the mechanisms involved. CHO-K1 cells showed a small but consistent increase in the low-dose (α-inactivation coefficient) mechanism for both radiations scattered from high-Z material. An increased value of the α coefficient suggests an increase in RBE which could be associated with a higher proportion of low-energy and track-end electrons in these fields. The radiation fields which produced maximum single-hit killing in CHO-K1 cells also produced less killing by the quadratic (β-inactivation coefficient) mechanism. In contrast, when similarly irradiated, CHO-xrs5 cells exhibited significantly lower α coefficients of inactivation. The mechanistic basis for this opposite effect of backscattered radiations in these cell lines is as yet unknown.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)406-415
Number of pages10
JournalRadiation research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiation
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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    Zellmer, D. L., Chapman, J. D., Stobbe, C. C., Xu, F., & Das, I. J. (1998). Radiation fields backscattered from material interfaces: I. Biological effectiveness. Radiation research, 150(4), 406-415. https://doi.org/10.2307/3579659