An in vitro study of the radiobiological effects of flattening filter free radiotherapy treatments

R. B. King*, W. B. Hyland, A. J. Cole, K. T. Butterworth, S. J. McMahon, K. M. Redmond, C Trainer, K. M. Prise, C K McGarry, A. R. Hounsell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Flattening filter free (FFF) linear accelerators allow for an increase in instantaneous dose-rate of the x-ray pulses by a factor of 2-6 over the conventional flattened output. As a result, radiobiological investigations are being carried out to determine the effect of these higher dose-rates on cell response. The studies reported thus far have presented conflicting results, highlighting the need for further investigation. To determine the radiobiological impact of the increased dose-rates from FFF exposures a Varian Truebeam medical linear accelerator was used to irradiate two human cancer cell lines in vitro, DU-145 prostate and H460 non-small cell lung, with both flattened and FFF 6 MV beams. The fluence profile of the FFF beam was modified using a custom-designed Nylon compensator to produce a similar dose profile to the flattened beam (6X) at the cell surface but at a higher instantaneous dose-rate. For both cell lines there appeared to be no significant change in cell survival. Curve fitting coefficients for DU145 cells irradiated with constant average dose-rates were 6X: alpha = 0.09 +/- 0.03, beta = 0.03 +/- 0.01 and 6FFF: alpha = 0.14 +/- 0.13, beta = 0.03 +/- 0.02 with a significance of p = 0.75. For H460 cells irradiated with the same instantaneous dose-rate but different average dose-rate the fit coefficients were 6FFF (low dose-rate): alpha = 0.21 +/- 0.11, 0.07 +/- 0.02 and 6FFF (high dose-rate): alpha = 0.21 +/- 0.16, 0.07 +/- 0.03, with p = 0.79. The results indicate that collective damage behaviour does not occur at the instantaneous dose-rates investigated here and that the use of either modality should result in the same clinical outcome, however this will require further validation in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)N83-N94
Number of pages12
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number5
Early online date11 Feb 2013
Publication statusPublished - 07 Mar 2013


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