The contribution of cytotoxicity to DNA-effects in the single cell gel test (comet assay)

Universität Ulm, Abteilung Medizinische Genetik, D-89069 Ulm, Germany
Toxicology Letters (Impact Factor: 3.36). 03/1997; DOI: 10.1016/S0378-4274(96)03847-7

ABSTRACT We evaluated genotoxic and cytotoxic effects of the three non-mutagenic and non-carcinogenic compounds p-nitrophenol, d-menthol and sodium N-lauroyl sarcosine which have previously been shown to induce DNA double strand breaks (DNA dsb) secondary to induced cytotoxicity. We tested wheter genotoxic effects in the alkaline single cell gel test (comet assay) may be confounded by cytotoxicity-induced DNA dsb. Cell viability was determined at the end of the treatment using the fluorescein diacetate/ethidium bromide-assay and plating efficiency was used as an indicator of long-term survivability. Experiments with V79 Chinese hamster cells and human white blood cells revealed negative results in the comet assay despite strong cytotoxic effects. However, cells with extremely fragmented DNA (‘clouds’) occured but were excluded from the evaluation under the principle that they represent dead cells. We also noticed a significant loss of cells at cytotoxic concentrations that might be attributed to the induction of highly fragmented DNA which is lost during electrophoresis. Since the comet assay allows the determination of DNA effects on the single cell level, a confounding effect of cytotoxicity on test results can be avoided.

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