Biomedical Microdevices

, 11:925 | Cite as

Quantifying tumor-selective radiation dose enhancements using gold nanoparticles: a monte carlo simulation study

  • Sean X. ZhangEmail author
  • Junfang Gao
  • Thomas A. Buchholz
  • Zhonglu Wang
  • Mohammad R. Salehpour
  • Rebekah A. Drezek
  • Tse-Kuan Yu


Gold nanoparticles can enhance the biological effective dose of radiation delivered to tumors, but few data exist to quantify this effect. The purpose of this project was to build a Monte Carlo simulation model to study the degree of dose enhancement achievable with gold nanoparticles. A Monte Carlo simulation model was first built using Geant4 code. An Ir-192 brachytherapy source in a water phantom was simulated and the calculation model was first validated against previously published data. We then introduced up to 1013 gold nanospheres per cm3 into the water phantom and examined their dose enhancement effect. We compared this enhancement against a gold-water mixture model that has been previously used to attempt to quantify nanoparticle dose enhancement. In our benchmark test, dose-rate constant, radial dose function, and two-dimensional anisotropy function calculated with our model were within 2% of those reported previously. Using our simulation model we found that the radiation dose was enhanced up to 60% with 1013 gold nanospheres per cm3 (9.6% by weight) in a water phantom selectively around the nanospheres. The comparison study indicated that our model more accurately calculated the dose enhancement effect and that previous methodologies overestimated the dose enhancement up to 16%. Monte Carlo calculations demonstrate that biologically-relevant radiation dose enhancement can be achieved with the use of gold nanospheres. Selective tumor labeling with gold nanospheres may be a strategy for clinically enhancing radiation effects.


Nanoparticle Dose enhancement Monte Carlo simulation modeling 


Conflict of interest

The authors are unaware of any actual or potential conflicts of interest that may exist.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sean X. Zhang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Junfang Gao
    • 1
  • Thomas A. Buchholz
    • 3
  • Zhonglu Wang
    • 1
  • Mohammad R. Salehpour
    • 1
  • Rebekah A. Drezek
    • 2
  • Tse-Kuan Yu
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Radiation PhysicsThe University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Bioengineering and Department of Electric and Computer EngineeringRice UniversityHoustonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Radiation OncologyThe University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA

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