In clinical ion beam therapy, protons as well as heavier ions such as carbon are used for treatment. For protons, beta(+)-emitters are only induced by fragmentation reactions in the target (target fragmentation), whereas for heavy ions, they are additionally induced by fragmentations of the projectile (further referred to as autoactivation). An approach utilizing these processes for treatment verification, by comparing measured Positron Emission Tomography (PET) data to predictions from Monte Carlo simulations, has already been clinically implemented. For an accurate simulation, it is important to consider the biological washout of beta(+)-emitters due to vital functions. To date, mathematical expressions for washout have mainly been determined by using radioactive beams of (10)C- and (11)C-ions, both beta(+)-emitters, to enhance the counting statistics in the irradiated area. Still, the question of how the choice of projectile (autoactivating or non-autoactivating) influences the washout coefficients, has not been addressed. In this context, an experiment was carried out at the Heidelberg Ion Beam Therapy Center with the purpose of directly comparing irradiation-induced biological washout coefficients in mice for protons and (12)C-ions. To this aim, mice were irradiated in the brain region with protons and (12)C-ions and measured after irradiation with a PET/CT scanner (Siemens Biograph mCT). After an appropriate waiting time, the mice were sacrificed, then irradiated and measured again under similar conditions. The resulting data were processed and fitted numerically to deduce the main washout parameters. Despite the very low PET counting statistics, a consistent difference could be identified between (12)C-ion and proton irradiated mice, with the (12)C data being described best by a two component fit with a combined medium and slow washout fraction of 0.50 +/- 0.05 and the proton mice data being described best by a one component fit with only one (slow) washout fraction of 0.73 +/- 0.06.
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Journal article published