Hawkins, R. B. A Microdosimetric-Kinetic Model for the Effect of Non-Poisson Distribution of Lethal Lesions on the Variation of RBE with LET. Radiat. Res. 160, 61–69 (2003).
The microdosimetric-kinetic (MK) model for cell killing by ionizing radiation is summarized. An equation based on the MK model is presented which gives the dependence of the relative biological effectiveness in the limit of zero dose (RBE1) on the linear energy transfer (LET). The relationship coincides with the linear relationship of RBE1 and LET observed for low LET, which is characteristic of a Poisson distribution of lethal lesions among the irradiated cells. It incorporates the effect of deviation from the Poisson distribution at higher LET. This causes RBE1 to be less than indicated by extrapolation of the linear relationship to higher LET, and to pass through a maximum in the range of LET of 50 to 200 keV per micrometer. The relationship is compared with several experimental studies from the literature. It is shown to approximately fit their results with a reasonable choice for the value of a cross-sectional area related to the morphology and ultrastructure of the cell nucleus. The model and the experiments examined indicate that the more sensitive cells are to radiation at low LET, the lower will be the maximum in RBE they attain as LET increases. An equation that portrays the ratio of the sensitivity of a pair of cell types as a function of LET is presented. Implications for radiotherapy with high-LET radiation are discussed.