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PURPOSE: To investigate the biological effect of single, isolated, short electron tracks (<70 nm) relevant to practical human exposures to low-linear energy transfer radiation. MATERIALS AND METHODS: An irradiation rig was constructed that allowed environmentally controlled, protracted irradiations with an individually prescribed dose to up to 20 samples over a period of days. Inactivation of V79-4 mammalian cells by Al(K) ultrasoft X-rays was studied at high and low dose-rates with a maximum exposure time of 42 h. RESULTS: A significant increase in clonogenic survival was observed at the higher doses when the exposure time was increased from <6 min to 21 h, with no further increase observed for 42-h exposures. Despite the short range of the low-energy electrons produced (<70 nm), significant cell inactivation was observed for these low dose-rate exposures. CONCLUSIONS: The results are consistent with the hypothesis that even individual tracks can be biologically effective.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Radiat Biol

Publication Date





967 - 979


Aluminum, Animals, Cell Cycle, Cell Line, Cell Size, Cell Survival, Cricetinae, Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation, Electrons, Fibroblasts, Linear Energy Transfer, Microscopy, Confocal, Poisson Distribution, Radiation Dosage, Relative Biological Effectiveness, Time Factors, X-Rays