Proton FLASH: Impact of Dose Rate and Split Dose on Acute Skin Toxicity in a Murine Model

Brita Singers Sørensen, Eleni Kanouta, Christina Ankjærgaard, Line Kristensen, Jacob G Johansen, Mateusz Krzysztof Sitarz, Claus E Andersen, Cai Grau, Per Poulsen

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


PURPOSE: Preclinical studies have shown a preferential normal tissue sparing effect of FLASH radiation therapy with ultra-high dose rates. The aim of the present study was to use a murine model of acute skin toxicity to investigate the biologic effect of varying dose rates, time structure, and introducing pauses in the dose delivery.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: The right hind limbs of nonanaesthetized mice were irradiated in the entrance plateau of a pencil beam scanning proton beam with 39.3 Gy. Experiment 1 was with varying field dose rates (0.7-80 Gy/s) without repainting, experiment 2 was with varying field dose rates (0.37-80 Gy/s) with repainting, and in experiment 3, the dose was split into 2, 3, 4, or 6 identical deliveries with 2-minute pauses. In total, 320 mice were included, with 6 to 25 mice per group. The endpoints were skin toxicity of different levels up to 25 days after irradiation.

RESULTS: The dose rate 50, which is the dose rate to induce a response in 50% of the animals, depended on the level of skin toxicity, with the higher toxicity levels displaying a FLASH effect at 0.7-2 Gy/s. Repainting resulted in higher toxicity for the same field dose rate. Splitting the dose into 2 deliveries reduced the FLASH effect, and for 3 or more deliveries, the FLASH effect was almost abolished for lower grades of toxicity.

CONCLUSIONS: The dose rate that induced a FLASH effect varied for different skin toxicity levels, which are characterized by a differing degree of sensitivity to radiation dosage. Conclusions on a threshold for the dose rate needed to obtain a FLASH effect can therefore be influenced by the dose sensitivity of the used endpoint. Splitting the total dose into more deliveries compromised the FLASH effect. This can have an impact for fractionation as well as for regions where 2 or more FLASH fields overlap within the same treatment session.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 May 2024


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