Exploring water radiolysis in proton cancer therapy: Time-dependent, non-adiabatic simulations of H+ + (H2O)1-6


To elucidate microscopic details of proton cancer therapy (PCT), we apply the simplest-level electron nuclear dynamics (SLEND) method to H+ + (H2O)1-6 at ELab = 100 keV. These systems are computationally tractable prototypes to simulate water radiolysis reactions—i.e. the PCT processes that generate the DNA-damaging species against cancerous cells. To capture incipient bulk-water effects, ten (H2O)1-6 isomers are considered, ranging from quasi-planar/multiplanar (H2O)1-6 to “smallest-drop” prism and cage (H2O)6 structures. SLEND is a time-dependent, variational, non-adiabatic and direct method that adopts a nuclear classical-mechanics description and an electronic single-determinantal wavefunction in the Thouless representation. Short-time SLEND/6-31G* (n = 1–6) and /6-31G** (n = 1–5) simulations render cluster-to-projectile 1-electron-transfer (1-ET) total integral cross sections (ICSs) and 1-ET probabilities. In absolute quantitative terms, SLEND/6-31G* 1-ET ICS compares satisfactorily with alternative experimental and theoretical results only available for n = 1 and exhibits almost the same accuracy of the best alternative theoretical result. SLEND/6-31G** overestimates 1-ET ICS for n = 1, but a comparable overestimation is also observed with another theoretical method. An investigation on H+ + H indicates that electron direct ionization (DI) becomes significant with the large virtual-space quasi-continuum in large basis sets; thus, SLEND/6-31G** 1-ET ICS is overestimated by DI contributions. The solution to this problem is discussed. In relative quantitative terms, both SLEND/6-31* and /6-31G** 1-ET ICSs precisely fit into physically justified scaling formulae as a function of the cluster size; this indicates SLEND’s suitability for predicting properties of water clusters with varying size. Long-time SLEND/6-31G* (n = 1–4) simulations predict the formation of the DNA-damaging radicals H, OH, O and H3O. While “smallest-drop” isomers are included, no early manifestations of bulk water PCT properties are observed and simulations with larger water clusters will be needed to capture those effects. This study is the largest SLEND investigation on water radiolysis to date.


© 2017 Privett et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Isomers, Prisms, DNA Damage, Cancer and Neoplasms, Prototypes, Electron Density, Power Grids, Radiation Therapy


Privett AJ, Teixeira ES, Stopera C, Morales JA (2017) Exploring water radiolysis in proton cancer therapy: Time-dependent, non-adiabatic simulations of H+ + (H2O)1-6. PLoS ONE 12(4): e0174456. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0174456