Computational feasibility of simulating changes in blood flow through whole-organ vascular networks from radiation injury
Vasculature is necessary to the healthy function of most tissues. In radiation therapy, injury of the vasculature can have both beneficial and detrimental effects, such as tumor starvation, cardiac fibrosis, and white-matter necrosis. These effects are caused by changes in blood flow due to the vascular injury. Previously, research has focused on simulating the radiation injury of vasculature in small volumes of tissue, ignoring the systemic effects of local damage on blood flow. Little is known about the computational feasibility of simulating the radiation injury to whole-organ vascular networks. The goal of this study was to test the computational feasibility of simulating the dose deposition to a whole-organ vascular network and the resulting change in blood flow. To do this, we developed an amorphous track-structure model to transport radiation and combined this with existing methods to model the vasculature and blood flow rates. We assessed the algorithm's computational scalability, execution time, and memory usage. The data demonstrated it is computationally feasible to calculate the radiation dose and resulting changes in blood flow from 2 million protons to a network comprising 8.5 billion blood vessels (approximately the number in the human brain) in 87 hours using a 128-node cluster. Furthermore, the algorithm demonstrated both strong and weak scalability, meaning that additional computational resources can reduce the execution time further. These results demonstrate, for the first time, that it is computationally feasible to calculate radiation dose deposition in whole-organ vascular networks. These findings provide key insights into the computational aspects of modeling whole-organ radiation damage. Modeling the effects radiation has on vasculature could prove useful in the study of radiation effects on tissues, organs, and organisms.