Radio-sensitization efficacy of gold nanoparticles in inhalational nanomedicine and the adverse effect of nano-detachment due to coating inactivation

Published:March 21, 2019DOI:


      • Inhalation is more efficient in dose amplification compared to intravenous injection.
      • The enhancing electrons can adversely disrupt the chemical bonds in the coating.
      • The enhancing power of GNPs could be degraded by a factor that can reach 62%.
      • The loss depends on the separation distance, GNP size, X-ray energy and spectrum.


      Gold nanoparticles (GNPs) are an emerging area of interest in radiation therapy due to their unique radio-sensitizing properties. In the literature, the enhancing capability of GNPs is usually quantified using the metric dose enhancement ratio (DER). Traditionally, the focus of the vast majority of studies has always been on intravenous administration of GNPs. However, recent work showed the potential of using GNP inhalation, rather than intravenous injection, to enhance the dose to the lung. Yet, some of these studies are employing simplistic analytical methods to calculate DER and, thus far, there are no detailed computations of the enhancement profiles therein. Moreover, the coating on the GNP surface can be adversely affected by the large gradient of the radiation dose in the immediate vicinity of GNPs, leading to the rupture of ligands and detachment of GNPs from the surface of the membrane, and hence the loss of its efficacy. In this study, a next-generation deterministic code was used to resolve the DER profile at the interface between the septum, air, and surface of GNPs when they are attached and detached. The results show that the large values of DER in conjunction with the developed hot spots are very effective in lung treatment; on the other hand, coating rupture can lead to significant reduction in DER that may reach 64%. Thus, GNPs can be beneficial in inhalational medicine to treat lung cancer, provided that more comprehensive studies on the characteristics of the coating are addressed to maximize the radio-therapeutic benefit of GNPs.


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