Complex DNA damage, defined as at least two vicinal lesions within 10–20 base pairs (bp), induced after exposure to ionizing radiation, is recognized as fatal damage to human tissue. Due to the difficulty of directly measuring the aggregation of DNA damage at the nano-meter scale, many cluster analyses of inelastic interactions based on Monte Carlo simulation for radiation track structure in liquid water have been conducted to evaluate DNA damage. Meanwhile, the experimental technique to detect complex DNA damage has evolved in recent decades, so both approaches with simulation and experiment get used for investigating complex DNA damage. During this study, we propose a simplified cluster analysis of ionization and electronic excitation events within 10 bp based on track structure for estimating complex DNA damage yields for electron and X-ray irradiations. We then compare the computational results with the experimental complex DNA damage coupled with base damage (BD) measured by enzymatic cleavage and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The computational results agree well with experimental fractions of complex damage yields, i.e., single and double strand breaks (SSBs, DSBs) and complex BD, when the yield ratio of BD/SSB is assumed to be 1.3. Considering the comparison of complex DSB yields, i.e., DSB + BD and DSB + 2BD, between simulation and experimental data, we find that the aggregation degree of the events along electron tracks reflects the complexity of induced DNA damage, showing 43.5% of DSB induced after 70 kVp X-ray irradiation can be classified as a complex form coupled with BD. The present simulation enables us to quantify the type of complex damage which cannot be measured through in vitro
experiments and helps us to interpret the experimental detection efficiency for complex BD measured by AFM. This simple model for estimating complex DNA damage yields contributes to the precise understanding of the DNA damage complexity induced after X-ray and electron irradiations.
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