, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 31-38

Quantitative modelling of DNA damage using Monte Carlo track structure method

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Abstract

This paper presents data on modelling of DNA damage induced by electrons, protons and alpha-particles to provide an insight into factors which determine the biological effectiveness of radiations of high and low linear energy transfer (LET). These data include the yield of single- and double-strand breaks (ssb, dsb) and base damage in a cellular environment. We obtain a ratio of 4–15 for ssb:dsb for solid and cellular DNA and a preliminary ratio of about 2 for base damage to strand breakage. Data are also given on specific characteristics of damage at the DNA level in the form of clustered damage of varying complexity, that challenge the repair processes and if not processed adequately could lead to the observed biological effects. It is shown that nearly 30% of dsb are of complex form for low-LET radiation, solely by virtue of additional breaks, rising to about 70% for high-LET radiation. Inclusion of base damage increases the complex proportion to about 60% and 90% for low- and high-LET radiation, respectively. The data show a twofold increase in frequencies of complex dsb from low-LET radiation when base damage is taken into account. It is shown that most ssb induced by high-LET radiation have associated base damages, and also a substantial proportion is induced by low-energy electrons.

Received: 20 September 1998 / Accepted in revised form: 15 December 1998