The biological effects of Auger-electron-emitting radionuclides can be as severe as those of alpha particles of high linear energy transfer. A great deal of effort has been expended in exploring the biological effects of Auger electron emitters. Much of this effort has been devoted to improving theoretical and experimental techniques required to calculate absorbed doses and correlate them with the observed biological effects. Given that the main purpose of dosimetry is to obtain a physical descriptor with which to correlate radiation toxicity, then nowhere is this challenge greater than when biological specimens are subject to Auger electron cascades. The dense shower of short-range Auger electrons released by radionuclides, which decay by electron capture or internal conversion, results in biological damage that is highly dependent on the location of the decay site within the cell. In this report, different approaches to Auger electron dosimetry are described and compared. Methods to calculate the absorbed dose from Auger electron emitters at the DNA, cellular, multicellular, and organ levels are described as they relate to the biological effects. The concept of a radiation weighting factor for Auger electrons to be used in the calculation of equivalent dose is reviewed. The importance of subcellular distribution of Auger emitters in determining the biological effects of these radionuclides is emphasized and incorporated into the equivalent dose formalism. The Task Group recommends that a preliminary radiation weighting factor of 10 be used for deterministic effects of Auger electrons, and a value of 20 for stochastic effects.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging