The relative effectiveness of high-energy neon and iron ions for the production of DNA double-strand breaks was measured in one transformed and one nontransformed human fibroblast cell line using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. The DNA released from the gel plug (fraction of activity released: FAR) as well as the size distribution of the DNA entering the gel were used to compare the effects of the heavy-ion exposure with X-ray exposure. Both methods gave similar results, indicating similar distributions of breaks over megabase-pair distances for the heavy ions and the X rays. The relative biological effectiveness (RBE) compared to 225 kVp X rays of initially induced DNA double-strand breaks was found to be 0.85 for 425 MeV/u neon ions (LET 32 keV/μm) and 0.42-0.55 for 250-600 MeV/u iron ions (LET 190-350 keV/μm). Postirradiation incubation showed less efficient repair of breaks induced by the neon ions and the 600 MeV/u iron ions compared to X rays. Survival experiments demonstrated RBE values larger than one for cell killing by the heavy ions in parallel experiments (neon: RBE = 1.2, iron: RBE = 2.3-3.0, based on$D_{10}$ values). It is concluded that either the initial yield of DNA double-strand breaks induced by the high-energy particles is lower than the yield for X rays, or the breaks induced by heavy ions are present in clusters that cannot be resolved with the technique used. These results are confirmed in the accompanying paper.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.