The BIANCA model/code of radiation-induced cell death: Application to human cells exposed to different radiation types

Francesca Ballarini, Saverio Altieri, Silva Bortolussi, Mario Carante, Elio Giroletti, Nicoletta Protti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents a biophysical model of radiation-induced cell death, implemented as a Monte Carlo code called BIophysical ANalysis of Cell death and chromosome Aberrations (BIANCA), based on the assumption that some chromosome aberrations (dicentrics, rings, and large deletions, called ‘‘lethal aberrations’’) lead to clonogenic inactivation. In turn, chromosome aberrations are assumed to derive from clustered, and thus severe, DNA lesions (called ‘‘cluster lesions,’’ or CL) interacting at the micrometer scale; the CL yield and the threshold distance governing CL interaction are the only model parameters. After a pilot study on V79 hamster cells exposed to protons and carbon ions, in the present work the model was extended and applied to AG1522 human cells exposed to photons, He ions, and heavier ions including carbon and neon. The agreement with experimental survival data taken from the literature supported the assumptions. In particular, the inactivation of AG1522 cells was explained by lethal aberrations not only for X-rays, as already reported by others, but also for the aforementioned radiation types. Furthermore, the results are consistent with the hypothesis that the critical initial lesions leading to cell death are DNA cluster lesions having yields in the order of *2 CL Gy-1 cell-1 at low LET and 20 CL Gy-1 cell-1 at high LET, and that the processing of these lesions is modulated by proximity effects at the micrometer scale related to interphase chromatin organization. The model was then applied to calculate the fraction of inactivated cells, as well as the yields of lethal aberrations and cluster lesions, as a function of LET; the results showed a maximum around 130 keV/lm, and such maximum was much higher for cluster lesions and lethal aberrations than for cell inactivation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-533
Number of pages9
JournalRadiation and Environmental Biophysics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 23 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Biophysical models
  • Cell survival
  • Chromosome aberrations
  • Ionizing radiation
  • Monte Carlo simulations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiation
  • Environmental Science(all)


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