Low-energy electrons transform the nimorazole molecule into a radiosensitiser

Rebecca Meißner, Jaroslav Kočišek, Linda Feketeová, Juraj Fedor, Michal Fárník, Paulo Limão-Vieira, Eugen Illenberger, Stephan Denifl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


While matter is irradiated with highly-energetic particles, it may become chemically modified. Thereby, the reactions of free low-energy electrons (LEEs) formed as secondary particles play an important role. It is unknown to what degree and by which mechanism LEEs contribute to the action of electron-affinic radiosensitisers applied in radiotherapy of hypoxic tumours. Here we show that LEEs effectively cause the reduction of the radiosensitiser nimorazole via associative electron attachment with the cross-section exceeding most of known molecules. This supports the hypothesis that nimorazole is selectively cytotoxic to tumour cells due to reduction of the molecule as prerequisite for accumulation in the cell. In contrast, dissociative electron attachment, commonly believed to be the source of chemical activity of LEEs, represents only a minor reaction channel which is further suppressed upon hydration. Our results show that LEEs may strongly contribute to the radiosensitising effect of nimorazole via associative electron attachment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2388
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


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