The radiobiology of targeted radiotherapy.


Targeted radiotherapy consists of biologically selective irradiation of malignant cells by means of radionuclides attached to tumour-seeking molecules. A variety of clinical strategies for targeted radiotherapy may be used, for which different normal tissues will be critical. A large number of radionuclides exist, emitting nuclear particles with a range of path lengths from nanometres to millimetres. An important feature of normal-tissue radiobiology is the dose-rate effect, which is especially marked for late-responding tissues. Radiobiological calculations imply that tolerance dose for targeted radiotherapy using low-LET emitters will depend strongly on the effective half-life of the radionuclide, which will be affected by pharmacokinetics and may vary between patients. Some strategies designed to improve the therapeutic radio (e.g. accelerated clearance of radionuclide) may have modulating effects on the tolerance dose. Tumour response will be governed by the 'four Rs' (repair, repopulation, reoxygenation, redistribution) as well as by mechanisms peculiar to targeted radiotherapy. Analysis based on the extended linear quadratic model predicts that dose-rate effects will be of major importance for only a minority of tumours. Most of the radiation dose to tumour will usually be delivered over a time-scale of a few days. This might give insufficient time for tumour reoxygenation, making the use of hypoxic sensitizers appropriate. A special feature of targeted radiotherapy is the complex relationship between tumour curability and tumour size for different radionuclides. For long-range beta-emitters, microscopic tumours may be operationally resistant because of inefficient absorption of radionuclide disintegration energy in small volumes. Short-range emitters will be more efficient in sterilization of micrometastases but sterilization of larger tumours may require an unattainable degree of homogeneity of radionuclide distribution. Optimal use of targeted radiotherapy may require it to be combined with external-beam irradiation or chemotherapy. Experimental studies will be necessary to investigate those features of targeted radiotherapy which differ from external-beam irradiation. Future directions may include targeted radiotherapy of minimal numbers of tumour cells detected by use of molecular probes. Such applications call for use of short-range alpha-emitters and Auger emitters whose radiobiology will become increasingly important.


Citations per Year

379 Citations

Semantic Scholar estimates that this publication has 379 citations based on the available data.

See our FAQ for additional information.

Cite this paper

@article{Wheldon1990TheRO, title={The radiobiology of targeted radiotherapy.}, author={T. E. Wheldon and Joseph A O'donoghue}, journal={International journal of radiation biology}, year={1990}, volume={58 1}, pages={1-21} }