Kiger, J. L., Kiger, W. S., III, Riley, K. J., Binns, P. J., Patel, H., Hopewell, J. W., Harling, O. K., Busse, P. M. and Coderre, J. A. Functional and Histological Changes in Rat Lung after Boron Neutron Capture Therapy. Radiat. Res. 170, 60–69 (2008).
The motivation for this work was an unexpected occurrence of lung side effects in two human subjects undergoing cranial boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT). The objectives were to determine experimentally the biological weighting factors in rat lung for the high-LET dose components for a retrospective assessment of the dose to human lung during cranial BNCT. Lung damage after whole-thorax irradiation was assessed by serial measurement of breathing rate and evaluation of terminal lung histology. A positive response was defined as a breathing rate 20% above the control group mean and categorized as occurring either early (<110 days) or late (>110 days). The ED50 values derived from probit analyses of the early breathing rate dose–response data for X rays and neutrons were 11.4 ± 0.4 and 9.2 ± 0.6 Gy, respectively, and were similar for the other end points. The ED50 values for irradiation with neutrons plus p-boronophenylalanine were 8.7 ± 1.0 and 6.7 ± 0.4 for the early and late breathing rate responses, respectively, and 7.0 ± 0.5 Gy for the histological response. The RBEs for thermal neutrons ranged between 2.9 ± 0.7 and 3.1 ± 1.2 for all end points. The weighting factors for the boron component of the dose differed significantly between the early (1.4 ± 0.3) and late (2.3 ± 0.3) breathing rate end points. A reassessment of doses in patients during cranial BNCT confirmed that the maximum weighted doses were well below the threshold for the onset of pneumonitis in healthy human lung.