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Abstract

This study proposes the application of the comet assay for the evaluation of DNA damage from frozen human whole blood samples that could be readily used in human biomonitoring and epidemiological studies. It was done on simply frozen whole blood samples collected from male volunteers (N = 60) aliquoted in small volumes and stored at -80 °C without the addition of cryopreservatives for a period of 5 years. To test the applicability of the alkaline comet assay for the evaluation of DNA damage in frozen whole blood, samples were quickly thawed at 37 °C and immediately embedded in an agarose matrix followed by an alkaline comet assay procedure. We concluded that the whole blood freezing and prolonged storage do not severely affect comet assay values, although background values were higher compared to our historical control data from the fresh whole blood. Even the influence of the variables tested, such as age, body mass index, smoking habit and alcohol consumption were in agreement with our previous data using fresh blood. The obtained results suggest that the comet assay could be applied to frozen blood samples, if properly stored, even for decades, which would certainly facilitate large-scale human biomonitoring and long-term epidemiological studies.

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... Numerous versions of the comet assay are used today: comet test in neutral [171,172] or alkaline [153,173] conditions for the detection of singlestranded and double-stranded breaks, alkali-sensitive sites, and cross-links between DNA-DNA and DNA-protein molecules [170,[174][175][176], comet-FISH (fluorescence in situ hybridization) method [177][178][179][180][181] and numerous enzymatic modifications of the comet assays that include enzymes isolated from bacteria and humans such as Endo III (endonuclease III), Fpg (formamido-pyrimidine-DNA)-glycosylase), and hOGG1 (human 8oxoguanine glycosylase) for the detection of oxidatively damaged DNA [182][183][184][185][186] as well as the latest modification of the comet assay to assess epigenetic changes in the DNA molecule [187][188][189][190]. Although it was until recently considered necessary to have fresh blood samples to perform comet assay, today there are protocols for the comet assay that can use frozen blood samples, which allows this method to be used in long-term epidemiological and large-scale human biomonitoring studies [191][192][193][194][195][196][197]. ...
... The criteria for interpreting the search findings are as follows. Acceptable levels of damage are considered to be up to 10% DNA in the comet's tail [26,183,193,196,203]. It should be noted that the OECD has included the comet assay as the official method (No. 489) in assessing genome damage in vivo when exposed to a number of physical and chemical agents [63] Recently, a special 96-well multichamber plate (MCP) high-throughput version of the comet assay was developed. ...
Chapter
Human biomonitoring is an important approach that enables the assessment of whether and to what extent environmental agents impact human population, thus facilitating the identification of health risks by providing data on environmental exposure. One of the advantages of human biomonitoring is that it can provide very accurate information about an individual’s total exposure at a given period, as it sums up exposure from several routes and sources. In the context of occupational exposure, biomonitoring can serve to determine hazardous agents as well as their biochemical and/or biological effects to humans. In this regard, this chapter aims to highlight the importance of human biomonitoring in occupational settings as well as its importance in identifying health risks. When it comes to biomarkers of effect, those reflecting changes in DNA damage are the most frequently used in occupational biomonitoring. The most commonly used methods to assess genetic damage are the comet assay, micronucleus assay, chromosome aberration test, sister chromatid exchange analysis, and γ-H2AX test. In this chapter, we will also provide an overview of the methods mentioned above. These methods are currently best validated in peripheral blood lymphocytes in the followup of individuals due to recent exposure under occupational conditions. Increased frequencies of parameters that can be measured by these methods in healthy and exposed subjects have been shown to determine risks of developing cancer later in life, suggesting a predictive role for these tests.
... Several attempts at cryopreservation of whole blood samples have been reported for use in epidemiological, biomonitoring and genotoxicity studies. DNA damage was successfully quantified by the comet assay on whole blood samples frozen with (Hininger et al. 2004;Koppen et al. 2018) and without the use of cryoprotectant (Ladeira et al. 2019;Gajski et al. 2020). Satisfying results were obtained in studies evaluating lymphocyte viability and transformation after whole blood cryopreservation (Fowke et al. 2000;Hayes et al. 2002;Stevens et al. 2007). ...
... Multiple studies investigated the influence of freezing on DNA damage levels in whole blood samples. No differences in basal DNA damage levels between fresh and frozen whole blood were found (Cheng et al. 2001;Hininger et al. 2004;Koppen et al. 2018;Ladeira et al. 2019;Milic et al. 2019;Gajski et al. 2020). In our study, spontaneous MN values were slightly lower in cryopreserved versus fresh cultures, also indicating that cryopreservation does not result in an increase in basal DNA damage. ...
Article
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Purpose: The cytokinesis-block micronucleus (MN) assay is a widely used technique in basic radiobiology research, human biomonitoring studies and in vitro radiosensitivity testing. Fresh whole blood cultures are commonly used for these purposes, but immediate processing of fresh samples can be logistically challenging. Therefore, we aimed at establishing a protocol for the MN assay on cryopreserved whole blood, followed by a thorough evaluation of the reliability of this assay for use in radiosensitivity assessment in patients. Materials and methods: Whole blood samples of 20 healthy donors and 4 patients with a primary immunodeficiency disease (PID) were collected to compare the results obtained with the MN assay performed on fresh versus cryopreserved whole blood samples. MN yields were scored after irradiation with 220 kV X-rays (dose rate 3 Gy/min), with doses ranging from 0.5 - 2 Gy. Results: Application of the MN assay on cryopreserved blood samples was successful in all analyzed samples. The radiation induced MN and NDI scores in fresh and cryopreserved blood cultures were found to be similar. Acceptable inter-individual and intra-individual variabilities in MN yields were observed. Repeated analysis of cryopreserved blood cultures originating from the same blood sample, thawed at different time points, revealed that MN values remain stable for cryopreservation periods up to one year. Finally, radiosensitive patients were successfully identified using the MN assay on cryopreserved samples. Conclusions: To our knowledge, this study is the first report of the successful use of cryopreserved whole blood samples for application of the MN assay. The data presented here demonstrate that the MN assay performed on cryopreserved whole blood is reliable for radiosensitivity testing. Our results also support its wider use in epidemiological, biomonitoring and genotoxicity studies. The presented method of cryopreservation of blood samples might also benefit other assays.
... A recent study showed a slightly higher level of DNA strand breaks in WB that had been stored for five years compared with freshly isolated samples, although it should be noted that the cryopreserved and fresh samples were not obtained from the same subjects (59,60). Nevertheless, both fresh and frozen WB samples had low levels of DNA strand breaks (i.e. ...
... processed in the comet assay Higher level of DNA strand breaks in frozen samples (4.4% tail DNA, n = 60, men only) as compared to fresh samples (1.6% tail DNA, n = 162, both men and women). Note: frozen and fresh samples were not from the same donors[60] ...
Article
DNA damage and repair activity are often assessed in blood s#38les from humans in different types of molecular epidemiology studies. However, it is not always feasible to analyse the s#38les on the day of collection without any type of storage. For instance, certain studies use repeated s#38ling of cells from the same subject or s#38les from different subjects collected at different time-points, and it is desirable to analyse all these s#38les in the same comet assay experiment. In addition, flawless comet assay analyses on frozen s#38les opens up for the possibility of using this technique on biobank material. In this article we discuss the use of cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), buffy coat (BC) and whole blood (WB) for analysis of DNA damage and repair using the comet assay. The published literature and the authors’ experiences indicate that various types of blood s#38les can be cryopreserved with only minor effect on the basal level of DNA damage. There is evidence to suggest that WB and PBMCs can be cryopreserved for several years without much effect on the level of DNA damage. However, care should be taken when cryopreserving WB and BCs. It is possible to use either fresh or frozen s#38les of blood cells, but results from fresh and frozen cells should not be used in the same dataset. The article outlines detailed protocols for the cryopreservation of PBMCs, BCs and WB s#38les.
... albumin, bilirubin, uric acid), but also pro-oxidant activity (i.e. heme iron) making its use debated 22,24 . In addition, cryopreservation may represent an additional critical step for WB since the presence of water in plasma may determine the formation of intracellular ice crystals leading to freezing damage and the release of iron from erythrocytes that may cause the activation of oxidative processes. ...
... Similar findings were reported by Ladeira and coworkers 25 showing no difference in DNA damage following 1, 4 and also 12 weeks of storage at − 80 °C of 200-250 µL WB samples. Gajsky et al. 22 , reported the possibility to store WB samples (200-400 μL) at − 80 °C, without cryoprotectant, even up to 5 years. Milic et al. 26 , showed no difference in DNA damage between fresh and stored blood (− 80 °C up to 1 year) when using a larger volume (1 mL) and without cryo-protection. ...
Article
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The comet assay is an electrophoretic technique used to assess DNA damage, as a marker of genotoxicity and oxidative stress, in tissues and biological samples including peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and whole blood (WB). Although numerous studies are performed on stored samples, the impact of cryopreservation on artifactual formation of DNA damage is not widely considered. The present study aims to evaluate the impact of storage at different time-points on the levels of strand breaks (SBs) and formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase (Fpg)-sensitive sites in isolated PBMCs and WB. Samples were collected, aliquoted and stored at − 80 °C. DNA damage was analyzed on fresh samples, and subsequently on frozen samples every 2 months up to a year. Results have shown no changes in DNA damage in samples of PBMCs and WB stored for up to 4 months, while a significant increase in SBs and Fpg-sensitive sites was documented starting from 6-month up to 12-month storage of both the samples. In addition, fresh and frozen WB showed higher basal levels of DNA damage compared to PBMCs. In conclusion, WB samples show high levels of DNA damage compared to PBMCs. One-year of storage increased the levels of SBs and Fpg-sensitive sites especially in the WB samples. Based on these findings, the use of short storage times and PBMCs should be preferred because of low background level of DNA damage in the comet assay.
... Modifications of the standard protocol also enable the detection of specific types of DNA base modifications, and the repair of such damage at the level of individual cells. The comet assay is commonly applied in basic research, genetic toxicology, regulatory toxicology, risk assessment, and human biomonitoring [1,2,11,12,[3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10]. Essentially, cells are embedded as a single cell suspension in an agarose matrix, followed by lysis with high salt and detergent, leaving DNA attached to the nuclear matrix as nucleoids. ...
Article
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DNA integrity is considered an important parameter of semen quality and is of significant value as a predictor of male fertility. Currently, there are several methods that can assess sperm DNA integrity. One such assay is the comet assay, or single-cell gel electrophoresis, which is a simple, sensitive, reliable, quick and low-cost technique that is used for measuring DNA strand breaks and repair at the level of individual cells. Although the comet assay is usually performed with somatic cells from different organs, the assay has the ability to detect genotoxicity in germ cells at different stages of spermatogenesis. Since the ability of sperm to remove DNA damage differs between the stages, interpretation of the results is dependent on the cells used. In this paper we give an overview on the use and applications of the comet assay on mature sperm and its ability to detect sperm DNA damage in both animals and humans. Overall, it can be concluded that the presence in sperm of significantly damaged DNA, assessed by the comet assay, is related to male infertility and seems to reduce live births. Although there is some evidence that sperm DNA damage also has a long-term impact on offspring’s health, this aspect of DNA damage in sperm is understudied and deserves further attention. In summary, the comet assay can be applied as a useful tool to study effects of genotoxic exposures on sperm DNA integrity in animals and humans.
... Single and double strand breaks, alkali label sites, and strand breaks associated with incomplete excision repair will facilitate the relaxation of DNA, indicating higher DNA damage. During the analysis, damaged cells appear as comets and the more the DNA is damaged the higher the intensity of tail is detected Collins et al. 2014;Gajski, Gerić, et al. 2020;Gajski, Langie, and Zhanataev 2020;Gerić et al. 2018;Møller et al. 2021Møller et al. , 2020Tice et al. 2000). TI reflects the percentage of DNA in the tail and it is also associated with increased risk of all-type cancer incidence and may predict the risk of death (Bonassi et al. 2021;Milić et al. 2021), while TL reflecting the comet tail's length and TM as a derivate of TL and TI have recently been discouraged from use. ...
Article
The health benefit of a vegetarian diet is still under debate as it may result in a higher intake of some beneficial micronutrients, while others may be reduced, thus influencing various metabolic pathways and health-related biomarkers. This scoping review discusses inflammatory, oxidative and DNA damage status in vegetarians and vegans compared to omnivores. Most of the reviewed studies indicated favorable effects of a vegetarian diet on oxidative status compared to omnivores but did not clearly associate particular dietary habits to genome damage. The evidence on the effect of vegetarian diet on the inflammatory and immunological biomarkers is poor, which could at least partly be explained by methodological constraints such as small sample size, short duration of vegetarianism and inconsistent definitions of the omnivorous diet. The only inflammatory biomarker that seems to be associated with the vegetarian diet was inflammatory mediator C-reactive protein, which in several studies showed lower values in vegetarians as compared to omnivores. There were very few studies on immunological markers and the results on the difference between vegetarians and omnivores were inconclusive. Although several biomarkers involved in oxidative stress and inflammation showed a beneficial association with the vegetarian diet, further research in well-defined and sufficiently sized cohorts is needed to provide more evidence.
... It is worth noting that the PMHs used in the present study were freshly isolated from the liver of euthanized animals, while PHHs were cryopreserved for several years before they were used for these studies. This freezing and thawing process may have resulted in slightly compromised cell viability and higher background DNA damage values (Gajski et al., 2020). Cryopreservation of primary hepatocytes provides constantly available resources for studying in vitro drug metabolism and evaluating the toxicity of various drugs intended for human use (Hengstler et al., 2000). ...
Article
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Non-human primates (NHPs) have played a vital role in fundamental, pre-clinical, and translational studies because of their high physiological and genetic similarity to humans. Here, we report a method to isolate primary hepatocytes from the livers of rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) after in situ whole liver perfusion. Isolated primary macaque hepatocytes (PMHs) were treated with various compounds known to have different pathways of genotoxicity/carcinogenicity and the resulting DNA damage was evaluated using the high-throughput CometChip assay. The comet data were quantified using benchmark dose (BMD) modeling and the BMD values for treatments of PMHs were compared with those generated from primary human hepatocytes (PHHs) in our previous study (Seo et al. Arch Toxicol 2020, 2207-2224). The results showed that despite varying CYP450 enzyme activities, PMHs had the same sensitivity and specificity as PHHs in detecting four indirect-acting (i.e., requiring metabolic activation) and seven direct-acting genotoxicants/carcinogens, as well as five non-carcinogens that are negative or equivocal for genotoxicity in vivo. The BMD50 estimates and their confidence intervals revealed species differences for DNA damage potency, especially for direct-acting compounds. The present study provides a practical method for maximizing the use of animal tissues by isolating primary hepatocytes from NHPs. Our data support the use of PMHs as a reliable surrogate of PHHs for evaluating the genotoxic hazards of chemical substances for humans.
... Multiple versions of the comet assay have been developed to measure repair of different kinds of damage in the genomes of live cells (35,36). While the traditional comet assay has gained increasing popularity for studies of DNA damage and repair (37)(38)(39)(40)(41)(42)(43)(44)(45)(46), it has not been widely adopted for multi-pathway analysis, in part due to low throughput, high inter-experimental and inter-laboratory variability, and the requirement for laborious analysis (47)(48)(49)(50)(51)(52)(53)(54). ...
Article
DNA damage can be cytotoxic and mutagenic, and it is directly linked to aging, cancer, and other heritable diseases. To counteract the deleterious effects of DNA damage, cells have evolved highly conserved DNA repair pathways. Many commonly used DNA repair assays are relatively low throughput and are limited to analysis of one protein or one pathway. Here, we have explored the capacity of the CometChip platform for parallel analysis of multiple DNA repair activities. Taking advantage of the versatility of the traditional comet assay and leveraging micropatterning techniques, the CometChip platform offers increased throughput and sensitivity compared to the traditional comet assay. By exposing cells to DNA damaging agents that create substrates of Base Excision Repair, Nucleotide Excision Repair, and Non-Homologous End Joining, we show that the CometChip is an effective method for assessing repair deficiencies in all three pathways. With these advanced applications of the CometChip platform, we expand the utility efficacy of the comet assay for precise, high-throughput, parallel analysis of multiple DNA repair activities.
... Nach der Induktion von DSB durch chemische Agenzien, konnte in kryokonservierten Lymphozyten ebenfalls eine stärkere DSB Signalisierung durch γH2A.X beobachtet werden (Sánchez-Flores et al. 2015). Obwohl vereinzelt eine leichte Zunahme des Basalniveaus von Einzelstrangbrüchen beobachtet wurde (Koppen et al. 2018;Ladeira et al. 2019), hatte in anderen Studien die Kryokonservierung scheinbar keinen Einfluss auf die Anzahl von Einzelstrangbrüchen und führte nicht zu Unterschieden in der Induktion und Reparaturkapazität von Einzelstrangbrüchen (Visvardis et al. 1997;Duthie et al. 2002;Ho et al. 2011;Milić et al. 2019;Gajski et al. 2020). Allerdings kann es durch die Kryokonservierung auf epigenetischer Ebene zu Veränderungen in der DNA Methylierung, bei Histonmodifikationen und in der Chromatinstruktur kommen (Chatterjee et al. 2017;Falk et al. 2018 (Narayanan et al. 2001;Allione et al. 2013;Wojewodzka et al. 2015). ...
... Furthermore, we discovered that, unlike isolated PBMCs, a cryopreservative did not need to be added to these small volumes of blood (< 250 µL) to prevent the formation of artefactual DNA oxidation products upon freezing for up to one month [163]. Longer cryopreservation periods have not been tested for specific DNA oxidation products, although the results show that background levels of DNA strand break in the cells of whole blood samples are not affected after up to five years of storage in the freezer [164,165]. This work led to for at least three months [166]. ...
Article
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Oxidatively generated damage to DNA has been implicated in the pathogenesis of a wide variety of diseases. Increasingly, interest is also focusing upon the effects of damage to the other nucleic acids, RNA and the (2’-deoxy-)ribonucleotide pools, and evidence is growing that these too may have an important role in disease. LC-MS/MS has the ability to provide absolute quantification of specific biomarkers, such as 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2’-deoxyGuo (8-oxodG), in both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA, and 8-oxoGuo in RNA. However, significant quantities of tissue are needed, limiting its use in human biomonitoring studies. In contrast, the comet assay requires much less material, and as little as 5 μL of blood may be used, offering a minimally invasive means of assessing oxidative stress in vivo, but this is restricted to nuclear DNA damage only. Urine is an ideal matrix in which to non-invasively study nucleic acid-derived biomarkers of oxidative stress, and considerable progress has been made towards robustly validating these measurements, not least through the efforts of the European Standards Committee on Urinary (DNA) Lesion Analysis. For urine, LC-MS/MS is considered the gold standard approach, and although there have been improvements to the ELISA methodology, this is largely limited to 8-oxodG. Emerging DNA adductomics approaches, which either comprehensively assess the totality of adducts in DNA, or map DNA damage across the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes, offer the potential to considerably advance our understanding of the mechanistic role of oxidatively damaged nucleic acids in disease.
... The standard alkaline comet assay is widely used in basic research into DNA damage-repair mechanisms, for in vitro and in vivo genotoxicity testing, in ecotoxicology investigation, and in environmental, occupational, and dietary biomonitoring studies [9]. Although several cell types have been employed over years [26], including buccal [27][28][29], nasal [30] and lens epithelial cells [31,32] and sperm [33], the great majority of human studies have used-and still use-whole blood leukocytes [34][35][36][37][38][39] or isolated peripheral blood mononuclear cells-usually referred as peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) [40][41][42], or both [43][44][45]. The use of PBLs as surrogate cells dominates the scene, as they circulate all over the body and have a long-life span, providing thereby information about the level of exposure and potential health risks [46]. ...
Article
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Many subjects perceive venous blood collection as too invasive, and thus moving to better-accepted procedures for leukocytes collection might be crucial in human biomonitoring studies (e.g., biomonitoring of occupational or residential exposure to genotoxins) management. In this context, primary DNA damage was assessed in buccal lymphocytes (BLs), fresh whole venous, and capillary blood leukocytes, and compared with that in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs)—the most frequently used cells—in 15 young subjects. Mouthwashes were collected after the volunteers rinsed their mouths with normal saline, and BLs were isolated by density gradient centrifugation. Blood samples were collected by venipuncture or by lancet. Anthropometric and lifestyle information was obtained by the administration of a structured questionnaire. As shown in the Bland-Altman plots, the level of agreement between BLs and PBLs lied within the accepted range, we thus enrolled a wider population (n = 54) to assess baseline DNA damage in BLs. In these cells, mean values of tail length (µm), tail intensity (%), and tail moment were 25.7 ± 0.9, 6.7 ± 0.4 and 1.0 ± 0.1, respectively. No significant association was observed between sex and smoking habit with any of the DNA damage parameters. Conversely, underweight subjects displayed significantly higher genomic instability compared with normal weight group (p < 0.05). In conclusion, we successfully managed to set up and update a non-invasive and well-accepted procedure for the isolation of BLs from saliva that could be useful in upcoming biomonitoring studies.
Article
Background and purpose Radon and its radioactive-progenies are the most important source of ionizing radiation of natural origin, being classified as a Group 1 carcinogen. The aim of this study is to investigate the genotoxic effects of a wide range of indoor radon concentrations, as well as the kinetics of the process of repairing DNA-induced lesions by a challenging dose of gamma irradiation. Material and methods Female subjects residing in the Băiţa-Ştei radon priority area were selected as exposed group. The reference group was comprised of women from the same county (Bihor), but located in an area with an average indoor radon concentration typical of the county from which they were taken. Radon concentration values of 300 Bq/m³ and 148 Bq/m³, respectively, were chosen as a threshold in order to capture the impact of radon exposure between the groups. The alkaline comet assay was used in order to measure the DNA damage, as well as the repair kinetics at 2 and 24 h after 2 Gy challenging dose of gamma irradiation using peripheral blood lymphocytes. From the serum of the subjects the oxidative damage by 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine, as well as the PARP induction were evaluated. The chromosomal aberrations were evaluated using the Cytokinesis Block MicroNucleus Assay. Results A statistically significant increase was observed in terms of DNA-induced lesions assessed by comet assay for the exposed group compared to the reference group. A positive correlation was obtained between DNA-damage and the annual effective dose, respectively with the radon progenies concentrations. A statistically significant difference was also observed for the frequency of the micronuclei between the exposed - reference groups. A significantly faster repair kinetics of DNA-induced lesions was recorded for the first 2 h after gamma irradiation in the reference group compared to the exposed group. Using the threshold of 300 Bq/m³ for radon concentration, a faster kinetics of DNA damage repair for people exposed to low radon concentrations, compared to those exposed to higher concentrations for the second phase of DNA repair kinetics was observed. Conclusion An increased radiosensitivity of lymphocytes, as well as a slower repair kinetics may be associated with exposure to higher indoor radon concentrations.
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This paper considers studies aimed at identifying markers of genotoxicity (chromosomal aberrations, micronuclei, and DNA damage assessed by the DNA comet assay) in patients with both gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and diabetes type 1 and 2 (T1DM and T2DM, respectively), as well as possible changes in the levels of these genotoxic markers under the influence of medicines and nutritions. Patients with T2DM are characterized by an increased level of genotoxicity markers. The results of genotoxicity markers in patients with T1DM and GDM studies are contradictory, however, they indicate the presence of an increased genotoxic load rather than its absence. The levels of genotoxic damage in diabetic patients may be reduced by physical exercises, diet, and/or hypoglycemic drugs. Metformin, Afobazole and Noopept are recommended for experimental and clinical studies as possible drug candidates that reduce the levels of genotoxic biomarkers in diabetic patients.
Article
Single-cell gel electrophoresis (comet assay) is a valuable test that can be used in ecotoxicological, epidemiological, and biomonitoring contexts. We assessed the effects of short- (without cryopreservation) and long-term (with cryopreservation) storage of DMEM-cultivated human peripheral blood leukocytes (HPBLs) and a human lung fibroblast cell line (FLECH-104) on comet assay results. Samples were stored for 6 or 24 h at room temperature (23°С) or 4 °C and frozen at -80 °C or -196 °C for 1, 2, or 4 weeks. Short-term storage led to significant increases in the comet tail intensity (TI) and Olive tail moment (OTM) in HPBL and FLECH-104 samples. Freezing FLECH-104 samples at -80°С and -196°С resulted in TI mean increases, with no differences in OTM. All frozen HPBL samples did not exhibit significant increases in TI or OTM, and instead exhibited a slight decrease in TI versus the control at both -80 °C and -196 °C. Increased frequency of highly damaged cells was observed in FLECH-104 and HPBL cultures during both short-term storage and after freezing, which may indicate a significant destructive effect. Therefore, freezing of cell cultures and whole blood according to our protocol is not recommended.
Article
The International Comet Assay Workshops (ICAW) are a series of scientific conferences dealing with different aspects of the comet assay. The assay itself is a simple method for the detection of DNA strand breaks at the cellular level and can be applied to any cell type derived from different organs and tissues of eukaryotic organisms. Additionally, the comet assay is widely applied in human biomonitoring, ecotoxicology, genotoxicity testing of chemicals, but also in basic research studying the mechanisms of DNA damage and repair. The 2019 ICAW edition gathered about 80 participants with over 30 lecturers, 27 poster presentations and 2 open discussion sessions presenting the latest advances in technical developments as well as applications of the comet assay in genetic toxicology, and environmental and human biomonitoring. This report summarises the important issues that were raised and discussed during the sessions as well as a short synopsis of the papers selected for inclusion in this special issue. Based on the topics presented at the workshop, the assay with its new modifications and applications has a bright future and will for sure stay one of the most popular methods in genetic toxicology and beyond in the years to come.
Article
This study aimed to evaluate occupational exposure to a styrene and xylene mixture through environmental exposure assessment and identify the potential genotoxic effects through biological monitoring. Secondly, we also exposed human peripheral blood cells in vitro to both xylene and styrene either alone or in mixture at concentrations found in occupational settings in order to understand their mechanism of action. The results obtained by air monitoring were below the occupational exposure limits for both substances. All biomarkers of effect, except for nucleoplasmic bridges, had higher mean values in workers (N = 17) compared to the corresponding controls (N = 17). There were statistically significant associations between exposed individuals and the presence of nuclear buds and oxidative damage. As for in vitro results, there was no significant influence on primary DNA damage in blood cells as evaluated by the comet assay. On the contrary, we did observe a significant increase of micronuclei and nuclear buds, but not nucleoplasmic bridges upon in vitro exposure. Taken together, both styrene and xylene have the potential to induce genomic instability either alone or in combination, showing higher effects when combined. The obtained data suggested that thresholds for individual chemicals might be insufficient for ensuring the protection of human health.
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Cancer is one of the diseases of greatest concern in developed countries and much effort has been invested in discovering and developing therapeutics for curing cancer. Despite the improvements in antineoplastic therapeutics in the last decades, cancer is still one of the most harmful diseases worldwide. The global burden of cancer also implies financial costs: these can be direct costs, such as those related to treatment, care, and rehabilitation and indirect, which include the loss of economic output due to missed work (morbidity costs) and premature death (mortality costs). There are also hidden costs such as health insurance premiums and nonmedical expenses that are worth noting. This paper intends to present an overview of the generally forgotten impacts that the increasing number of cancer cases can have on the environment, workers who handle antineoplastic drugs, and health services. The knowledge available of each of the impacts will be addressed and discussed regarding the expected development. Overall, lessons learnt reflect on the impact of cancer through aspects not commonly evidenced in the literature or even considered in socioeconomic analysis, in part due to the fact that these are difficult to contemplate in direct and indirect cancer costs already defined. Attention may be drawn to the need of continuous investment in prevention to reduce the negative impact on the environment, and in the health of workers who handle antineoplastic drugs for patients' treatment.
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The alkaline comet assay (single cell gel electrophoresis) is the most widely used method for measuring DNA damage in eukaryotic cells (Neri et al., 2015). It detects strand breaks (SBs) and alkali-labile sites at frequencies from a few hundred to several thousand breaks per cell—a biologically useful range, extending from low endogenous damage levels to the extent of damage that can be inflicted experimentally without killing cells. Digestion of the nucleoids, after lysis, with certain lesion-specific repair endonucleases allows measurement of damage other than SBs; notably, formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase (FPG) has been widely used to detect altered purines, which are converted to breaks by the enzyme. Recently, (Cortes-Gutierrez et al., 2014) developed a two-dimensional Two-Tailed comet assay (TT-comet) that can differentiate between single-stranded (SSBs) and double-stranded DNA breaks (DSBs) in the same comets in sperm.
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ABSTRACT The relation between alcohol consumption and mortality is a J-shaped curve in most of the many studies published on this topic. The Copenhagen Prospective Population Studies demonstrated in the year 2000 that wine intake may have a beneficial effect on all cause mortality that is additive to that of alcohol. Wine contains various poliphenolic substances which may be beneficial for health and in particular flavonols (such as myricetin and quercetin), catechin and epicatechin, proanthocyanidins, anthocyanins, various phenolic acids and the stilbene resveratrol. In particular, resveratrol seems to play a positive effect on longevity because it increases the expression level of Sirt1, besides its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties. Moderate wine drinking is part of the Mediterranean diet, together with abundant and variable plant foods, high consumption of cereals, olive oil as the main (added) fat and a low intake of (red) meat. This healthy diet pattern involves a "Mediterranean way of drinking", that is a regular, moderate wine consumption mainly with food (up to two glasses a day for men and one glass for women). Moderate wine drinking increases longevity, reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases and does not appreciably influence the overall risk of cancer.
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The quality of exposure assessment is a major determinant of the overall quality of any environmental epidemiology study. The use of biomonitoring as a tool for assessing exposure to ubiquitous chemicals with short physiologic half-lives began relatively recently. These chemicals present several challenges, including their presence in analytical laboratories and sampling equipment, difficulty in establishing temporal order in cross-sectional studies, short- and long-term variability in exposures and biomarker concentrations, and a paucity of information on the number of measurements required for proper exposure classification. To date, the scientific community has not developed a set of systematic guidelines for designing, implementing and interpreting studies of short-lived chemicals that use biomonitoring as the exposure metric or for evaluating the quality of this type of research for WOE assessments or for peer review of grants or publications. We describe key issues that affect epidemiology studies using biomonitoring data on short-lived chemicals and propose a systematic instrument - the Biomonitoring, Environmental Epidemiology, and Short-lived Chemicals (BEES-C) instrument - for evaluating the quality of research proposals and studies that incorporate biomonitoring data on short-lived chemicals. Quality criteria for three areas considered fundamental to the evaluation of epidemiology studies that include biological measurements of short-lived chemicals are described: 1) biomarker selection and measurement, 2) study design and execution, and 3) general epidemiological study design considerations. We recognize that the development of an evaluative tool such as BEES-C is neither simple nor non-controversial. We hope and anticipate that the instrument will initiate further discussion/debate on this topic.
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The comet assay has developed over the past 30 years and today, a variety of different DNA lesions and DNA repair can be measured by different versions of the assay (Collins, 2004). In the final step of the method, an image resembling a comet with a head (the nuclear core) and a tail (consisting of mainly single stranded DNA that has migrated out from the cell nuclei) is analyzed. The magnitude of the comet's DNA-tail provides information about the level of DNA lesions in the cell. The results from comet assay analyses are reported using different descriptors, the most frequently used being percentage of DNA in the tail (%T), tail length and tail moment (the product of %T and tail length). These descriptors can be reported in different ways, i.e., as means, medians or as distribution patterns. To compile the information on the migration of thousands of comets into a single value that is meaningful to convey to other researchers, is difficult. The solution has been practical and controlled by those researchers with the longest experience with the comet assay. In this opinion paper, we revisit the search for a commonly accepted descriptor for DNA damage measured by the comet assay. We define the “best” comet assay descriptor as a measurement that best describes the migration of DNA in each comet in the agarose, fits the distribution of comets in the gel, and conveys the technical measurement of comets as a descriptor that other researchers can understand. It should be emphasized that we do not embark on a mission to promote only one comet assay descriptor.
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The comet assay is a simple and cost effective technique, commonly used to analyze and quantify DNA damage in individual cells. The versatility of the comet assay allows introduction of various modifications to the basic technique. The difference in the methylation sensitivity of the isoschizomeric restriction enzymes HpaII and MspI are used to demonstrate the ability of the comet assay to measure the global DNA methylation level of individual cells when using cell cultures. In the experiments described here, a medium-throughput comet assay and methylation sensitive comet assay are combined to produce a methylation sensitive medium-throughput comet assay to measure changes in the global DNA methylation pattern in individual cells under various growth conditions.
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Influence of wine phenolic components on intestinal cell function. The scheme summarized the main activities of phenolics, which are the predominant non-alcoholic components of wine. They can interfere with the development of inflammatory intestinal diseases and colorectal cancer. Phenolics multiple properties are due to both direct antioxidant effects and indirect activation of redox-sensitive cell pathways involved in negative regulation of inflammation and immune modulation. Furthermore, microbiota plays a role in phenolics activity: it is essential for their metabolism, enabling them to reach highest concentrations in the gut. Diversity of phenolic composition is a reflection of interindividual variation in colonic microflora; on the other hand, phenolics act as prebiotics, increasing microflora growth. Ethanol matrix has an undoubted role in the impact of wine on intestinal functions. Despite the well-known deleterious consequences of high ethanol consumption, it has been proved that small concentrations of ethanol are able to act as cell signals, and influence microbiota growth together with phenolics. Figure optionsDownload full-size imageDownload as PowerPoint slide
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Preservation of human blood cells for DNA damage analysis with the comet assay conventionally involves the isolation of mononuclear cells by centrifugation, suspension in freezing medium and slow freezing to -80 °C-a laborious process. A recent publication (Al-Salmani et al. Free Rad Biol Med 2011; 51: 719-725) describes a simple method in which small volumes of whole blood are frozen to -20 or -80 °C; on subsequent thawing, the comet assay is performed, with no indication of elevated DNA strand breakage resulting from the rapid freezing. However, leucocytes in whole blood (whether fresh or frozen) are abnormally resistant to damage by H2 O2 , and so a common test of antioxidant status (resistance to strand breakage by H2 O2 ) cannot be used. We have refined this method by separating the leucocytes from the thawed blood; we find that, after three washes, the cells respond normally to H2 O2 . In addition, we have measured specific endogenous base damage (oxidized purines) in the isolated leucocytes, using the enzyme formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase. In a study of blood samples from 10 subjects, H2 O2 sensitivity and endogenous damage-both reflecting the antioxidant status of the cells-correlated significantly. This modified approach to sample collection and storage is particularly applicable when the available volume of blood is limited and has great potential in biomonitoring and ecogenotoxicology studies where samples are obtained in the field or at sites remote from the testing laboratory. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Human lymphocytes were either exposed to X-irradiation (25 to 200 rads) or treated with H2O2 (9.1 to 291 μM) at 4 °C and the extent of DNA migration was measured using a single-cell microgel electrophoresis technique under alkaline conditions. Both agents induced a significant increase in DNA migration, beginning at the lowest dose evaluated. Migration patterns were relatively homogeneous among cells exposed to X-rays but heterogeneous among cells treated with H2O2. An analysis of repair kinetics following exposure to 200 rads X-rays was conducted with lymphocytes obtained from three individuals. The bulk of the DNA repair occurred within the first 15 min, while all of the repair was essentially complete by 120 min after exposure. However, some cells demonstrated no repair during this incubation period while other cells demonstrated DNA migration patterns indicative of more damage than that induced by the initial irradiation with X-rays. This technique appears to be sensitive and useful for detecting damage and repair in single cells.
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The single cell gel electrophoresis (SCGE) assay, more commonly known as the comet assay, due to the "comet-like" appearance of the cells, was originally developed as a technique to measure the presence of DNA single-strand breaks. The assay is performed on single cells embedded in agar and placed in an electrical field at alkaline pH, so that fragments of negatively charged single-stranded DNA move through the gel toward the positively charged anode. Undamaged DNA moves relatively slowly, forming the head of the comet, while DNA fragmented due to the presence of single-strand breaks, moves more quickly giving the appearance of the tail. The extent of DNA migration is a measure of the DNA damage present. Since it was first developed, the comet assay has been adapted for measuring other types of DNA damage. The neutral comet assay has been employed for DNA double-strand breaks, while techniques using DNA repair enzymes to cleave specific adducts, UvrABC for ultraviolet radiation induced adducts, for example, have also been described. Here, we describe a modified version of the comet assay for the measurement of interstrand crosslinks (ICLs). Interstrand crosslinking agents include the chemotherapeutic agents mitomycin C and cis-platin, psoralen plus UVA light (PUVA) used to treat hyperproliferative skin disorders and diepoxybutane, a metabolite of 1,3-butadiene used in industrial processes and an environmental pollutant. ICLs are a potent and cytotoxic form of DNA damage as they prevent DNA strand separation, thereby preventing DNA replication. Their removal requires several different DNA repair processes including translesion synthesis and homologous recombination. As ICLs prevent separation of the DNA strands, their presence results in less DNA migration in the comet assay. To successfully measure ICLs, it is necessary to incorporate a step that induces single-strand breaks (using a defined dose of ionizing radiation) that allows the crosslinked DNA to migrate.
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Single-cell gel electrophoresis (comet assay) is one of the most common methods used to measure oxidatively damaged DNA in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), as a biomarker of oxidative stress in vivo. However, storage, extraction, and assay workup of blood samples are associated with a risk of artifactual formation of damage. Previous reports using this approach to study DNA damage in PBMC have, for the most part, required the isolation of PBMC before immediate analysis or freezing in cryopreservative. This is very time-consuming and a significant drain on human resources. Here, we report the successful storage of whole blood in ~250 μl volumes, at -80°C, without cryopreservative, for up to 1 month without artifactual formation of DNA damage. Furthermore, this blood is amenable for direct use in both the alkaline and the enzyme-modified comet assay, without the need for prior isolation of PBMC. In contrast, storage of larger volumes (e.g., 5 ml) of whole blood leads to an increase in damage with longer term storage even at -80°C, unless a cryopreservative is present. Our "small volume" approach may be suitable for archived blood samples, facilitating analysis of biobanks when prior isolation of PBMC has not been performed.
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Accumulation of DNA damage may play a significant role in the aetiology of the ageing process. Although genomic lesions increase the risk of cancer, many elderly individuals do not suffer from neoplasia in spite of their late age. We aimed to evaluate the rate of genome integrity impairment among elderly subjects without recorded chronic or inflammatory diseases and malignancies. Thirty-one generally healthy elderly subjects (age 69.3 +/- 3.7 years) were studied. Subjects matched control subjects by gender and lifestyle factors. Frequencies of structural chromosome aberrations and translocations applying fluorescence in situ hybridization chromosome painting probes, levels of primary DNA damage and oxidative lesions cleaved by hOGG1 enzyme using alkaline and hOGG1-modified comet assay were recorded in peripheral blood leukocytes. Also, susceptibility of the genome to H(2)O(2)-induced damage as a marker of antioxidative status was evaluated. Translocation yields and rates of chromatid breaks and acentric fragments were significantly higher among elderly subjects. Furthermore, a significant increase in the level of primary genome lesions and hOGG1-sensitive sites in DNA was detected, while the results of the comet assay following H(2)O(2) pre-treatment suggested decreased levels of antioxidant protection in leukocytes. The results obtained may indicate that accumulation of genome damage observed in leukocytes of elderly subjects as surrogate cells is intertwined with the ageing process. Taking this into consideration with the medical records of the study subjects, the results support other authors' findings that the accumulation of basal genome damage might not inevitably trigger the mechanism that enforces induced development of neoplasia.
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The alkaline single cell gel electrophoresis (comet) assay has become a widely used method for the detection of DNA damage and repair in cells and tissues. Still, it has been difficult to compare results from different investigators because of differences in assay conditions and because the data are reported in different units. The European Comet Assay Validation Group (ECVAG) was established for the purpose of validation of the comet assay with respect to measures of DNA damage formation and its repair. The results from this inter-laboratory validation trail showed a large variation in measured level of DNA damage and formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase-sensitive sites but the laboratories could detect concentration-dependent relationships in coded samples. Standardization of the results with reference standards decreased the inter-laboratory variation. The ECVAG trail indicates substantial reliability for the measurement of DNA damage by the comet assay but there is still a need for further validation to reduce both assay and inter-laboratory variation.
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The comet assay (single-cell gel electrophoresis) is now the most popular method for measuring low levels of damage in cellular DNA. Cells are embedded in agarose on a microscope slide and lysed to produce nucleoids of supercoiled DNA attached to the nuclear matrix. Breaks in the DNA relax the supercoiling and allow DNA loops to expand, and on electrophoresis to move towards the anode, giving the appearance of a comet tail. The % of DNA in the tail reflects the break frequency. Digestion of nucleoid DNA with lesion-specific endonucleases extends the usefulness of the method to investigate different kinds of damage. DNA repair can be studied by treating cells with a genotoxic agent, incubating them and using the comet assay to follow the removal of the damage. An important feature of the assay is that damage is detected at the level of individual cells. The comet assay can be combined with fluorescent in situ hybridization, using labelled probes to particular DNA sequences, and DNA damage and repair can be examined at an even finer level of resolution. Here, we provide a general review of the technique, answer some technical and theoretical questions and give examples of applications of the method.
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Biomonitoring of human populations exposed to potential mutagens or carcinogens can provide an early detection system for the initiation of cell disregulation in the development of cancer. In recent years, the Comet assay, also known as a "single cell gel" (SCG) electrophoresis assay, has become an important tool for assessing DNA damage in exposed populations. This is the method of choice for population-based studies of environmental and occupational exposure to air pollutants, metals, pesticides, radiation, and other xenobiotics as we show in this review. To appreciate the role of the Comet assay in the field of biomonitoring, we review data from 122 studies that employed the assay. These studies evaluated environmental versus occupational exposures and the levels of DNA damage in cells of individuals exposed in each case. Our review of the literature reveals the importance of the need to establish standard methodological conditions that affect unwinding and electrophoresis times and tail values (tail length, tail DNA, tail moment), with the goal of being able to compare data collected in different laboratories throughout the world. The Comet assay is susceptible to subtle artifacts of manipulation depending on the type and timing of sampling performed. Therefore, in the reporting of DNA damage detected by the Comet assay, the context of how the DNA damage was created also needs to be reported and considered in the interpretation of Comet assay results. The success of the Comet assay is reflected by its use over the past 20 years in the field of biomonitoring, and by the increasing number of studies that continue to report its use. As the shortcomings of the assay are identified and considered in the interpretation of DNA damage detection, the Comet assay will continue to provide improved reliability as a biomarker in human biomonitoring studies.
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The alkaline single-cell gel electrophoresis (or Comet) assay was applied to evaluate DNA damage in cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear leukocytes from 34 female shoe workers exposed to organic solvents and a group of 19 non-exposed women. We also investigated whether the polymorphisms of glutathione S-transferase M1 (GSTM1) and T1 (GSTT1) genes affect individual level of DNA damage possibly induced by the solvent exposure. Chemical measurements of workplace air in the two factories studied showed that the workers were exposed to acetone, gasoline, and toluene in both factories and to ethylacetate and diisocyanate in one factory. In the exposed workers, the average level of blood hemoglobin was lower and that of urinary hippuric acid higher than in the non-exposed individuals. However, the occupational exposure to organic solvents did not affect the Comet values. Neither did age, smoking, or the GSTM1 genotype have any effect on the outcome of this assay. The low prevalence of the GSTT1-null genotype precluded conclusions on the influence of GSTT1 polymorphism.
Article
The comet assay (single‐cell gel electrophoresis), which measures DNA strand breaks at the level of single cells, is very easily applied to human lymphocytes, and therefore lends itself to human biomonitoring studies. For the examination of DNA base oxidation (a specific marker of oxidative damage), the assay is modified by including a stage at which the DNA is incubated with a suitable lesion‐specific endonuclease. Here we report on the reliability and reproducibility of this approach, from the level of comparing results from duplicate gels prepared from the same sample of cells, up to an assessment of the natural intra‐ and interindividual variability in lymphocyte DNA damage measured in groups of normal, healthy human volunteers. We applied the assay in investigations of human disease and occupational exposure of factory workers. Environ. Mol. Mutagen. 30:139–146, 1997. © 1997 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.
Article
The comet assay is a well-accepted biomonitoring tool to examine the effect of dietary, lifestyle, environmental and occupational exposure on levels of DNA damage in human cells. With such a wide range of determinants for DNA damage levels, it becomes challenging to deal with confounding and certain factors are inter-related (e.g. poor nutritional intake may correlate with smoking status). This review describes the effect of intrinsic (i.e. sex, age, tobacco smoking, occupational exposure and obesity) and extrinsic (season, environmental exposures, diet, physical activity and alcohol consumption) factors on the level of DNA damage measured by the standard or enzyme-modified comet assay. Although each factor influences at least one comet assay endpoint, the collective evidence does not indicate single factors have a large impact. Thus, controlling for confounding may be necessary in a biomonitoring study, but none of the factors is strong enough to be regarded a priori as a confounder. Controlling for confounding in the comet assay requires a case-by-case approach. Inter-laboratory variation in levels of DNA damage and to some extent also reproducibility in biomonitoring studies are issues that have haunted the users of the comet assay for years. Procedures to collect specimens, and their storage, are not standardized. Likewise, statistical issues related to both sample-size calculation (before sampling of specimens) and statistical analysis of the results vary between studies. This review gives guidance to statistical analysis of the typically complex exposure, co-variate, and effect relationships in human biomonitoring studies.
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The comet assay has become one of the methods of choice for the evaluation and measurement of DNA damage. It is sensitive, quick to perform and relatively affordable for the evaluation of DNA damage and repair at the level of individual cells. The comet assay can be applied to virtually any cell type derived from different organs and tissues. Even though the comet assay is predominantly used on human cells, the application of the assay for the evaluation of DNA damage in yeast, plant and animal cells is also quite high, especially in terms of biomonitoring. The present extensive overview on the usage of the comet assay in animal models will cover both terrestrial and water environments. The first part of the review was focused on studies describing the comet assay applied in invertebrates. The second part of the review, (Part 2) will discuss the application of the comet assay in vertebrates covering cyclostomata, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, in addition to chordates that are regarded as a transitional form towards vertebrates. Besides numerous vertebrate species, the assay is also performed on a range of cells, which includes blood, liver, kidney, brain, gill, bone marrow and sperm cells. These cells are readily used for the evaluation of a wide spectrum of genotoxic agents both in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, the use of vertebrate models and their role in environmental biomonitoring will also be discussed as well as the comparison of the use of the comet assay in vertebrate and human models in line with ethical principles. Although the comet assay in vertebrates is most commonly used in laboratory animals such as mice, rats and lately zebrafish, this paper will only briefly review its use regarding laboratory animal models and rather give special emphasis to the increasing usage of the assay in domestic and wildlife animals as well as in various ecotoxicological studies.
Article
Using alkaline comet assay, DNA damage tail length (TL) and tail intensity (TI) parameters were compared between fresh whole blood and 1-year frozen small volume whole blood in EDTA at -80 °C without cryo-preservation. The studied group consisted of 25 volunteers with different health conditions who served as their own controls for frozen blood results. Without the purification step after thawing, the results and the usefulness of this protocol for future/retrospective (including re-analysations of putative outliers) studies were analysed. Medical surveillance and blood sampling were done at Merkur University Hospital Zagreb. No significant differences between fresh and frozen blood samples in terms of the mean TL values (mean ± SD: 29.03 ± 12.26 vs. 25.36 ± 6.97, respectively) and the mean TI values (9.19 ± 10.37 vs. 10.17 ± 8.55, respectively), and highly damaged cell percentage were determined among 25 volunteers. Median TI frozen samples values of entire group were within the allowed 10–11% (8.24). At the individual levels, no correlation between fresh and frozen whole blood samples was observed in 11 volunteers who suffered from diabetes mellitus type 2. Strong correlation between fresh/frozen samples was seen for TL (r = 0.64, p < 0.015) and TI (r = 0.71, p < 0.005) in nondiabetic subgroup. Overall, the results demonstrated the usefulness of the 1-year frozen blood without induction of heavily damaged DNA. Due to the different DNA damage behaviour connected with different health conditions, future studies should involve more volunteers, oxidative DNA damage comet assay measurements, the inclusion of a washing step after thawing and inclusion of disease/antioxidant biomarkers.
Article
The comet assay, also called single cell gel electrophoresis, is a sensitive, rapid and low-cost technique for quantifying and analysing DNA damage and repair at the level of individual cells. The assay itself can be applied on virtually any cell type derived from different organs and tissues of eukaryotic organisms. Although it is mainly used on human cells, the assay has applications also in the evaluation of DNA damage in yeast, plant and animal cells. Therefore, the purpose of this review is to give an extensive overview on the usage of the comet assay in animal models from invertebrates to vertebrates, covering both terrestrial and water biota. The comet assay is used in a variety of invertebrate species since they are regarded as interesting subjects in ecotoxicological research due to their significance in ecosystems. Hence, the first part of the review (Part 1) will discuss the application of the comet assay in invertebrates covering protozoans, platyhelminthes, planarians, cnidarians, molluscs, annelids, arthropods and echinoderms. Besides a large number of animal species, the assay is also performed on a variety of cells, which includes haemolymph, gills, digestive gland, sperm and embryo cells. The mentioned cells have been used for the evaluation of a broad spectrum of genotoxic agents both in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, the use of invertebrate models and their role from an ecotoxicological point of view will also be discussed as well as the comparison of the use of the comet assay in invertebrate and human models. Since the comet assay is still developing, its increasing potential in assessing DNA damage in animal models is crucial especially in the field of ecotoxicology and biomonitoring at the level of different species, not only humans.
Article
This study was designed within the frame of the COST Action hCOMET 15132 (Working Group 6), with the aim of comparing different peripheral blood cell preparations for their feasibility in human biomonitoring studies, using the comet assay for the evaluation of DNA damage. Basal levels of strand breaks/ALS and formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase (Fpg) - sites, and H2O2 (500 μM)-induced strand breaks, were measured in whole blood, peripheral blood mononuclear cells - lymphocytes and monocytes - and buffy coat; in fresh and 1, 4 and 12 weeks-frozen samples. The comparison among the fresh preparations showed that the basal levels of DNA damage were all very low and similar in the three samples. Frozen whole blood samples stored in cryostraws without cryoprotection showed similar basal levels of DNA damage as fresh samples, indicating that this preparation, often chosen for biobanks, resists efficiently freezing/thawing artifacts. However, long-term storage of frozen buffy coat samples in cryostraws and with no cryopreservative did not appear feasible. Storage up to 3 months of frozen cryoprotected peripheral blood mononuclear cells induced small increases in basal strand breaks and no other statistically significant modification. Altogether, this study suggests that whole blood could be the most suitable sample to be used to perform comet assay in human epidemiological biomonitoring for genotoxicity assessment in frozen samples, such as those stored in biobanks.
Article
During the last 30 years, the comet assay has become widely used for the measurement of DNA damage and repair in cells and tissues. A landmark achievement was reached in 2016 when the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development adopted a comet assay guideline for in vivo testing of DNA strand breaks in animals. However, the comet assay has much more to offer than being an assay for testing DNA strand breaks in animal organs. The use of repair enzymes increases the range of DNA lesions that can be detected with the assay. It can also be modified to measure DNA repair activity. Still, despite the long-term use of the assay, there is a need for studies that assess the impact of variation in specific steps of the procedure. This is particularly important for the on-going efforts to decrease the variation between experiments and laboratories. The articles in this Special Issue of Mutagenesis cover important technical issues of the comet assay procedure, nanogenotoxicity and ionising radiation sensitivity on plant cells. The included biomonitoring studies have assessed seasonal variation and certain predictors for the basal level of DNA damage in white blood cells. Lastly, the comet assay has been used in studies on genotoxicity of environmental and occupational exposures in human biomonitoring studies and animal models. Overall, the articles in this Special Issue demonstrate the versatility of the comet assay and they hold promise that the assay is ready for the next 30 years.
Article
The comet assay is often applied in human biomonitoring. Most of the time the assay is performed with isolated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). However, using whole blood instead of isolated cells reduces processing time, and only 20 µl is sufficient for analysis. In this study, a cryopreservation protocol for human whole blood for application in the comet assay was optimised by removing excess plasma before adding freezing medium. Cryopreservation of whole blood samples (n = 30) did not increase the detected level of strand breaks and formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase (FPG)-sensitive sites. Although there was no significant correlation with breaks measured in fresh whole blood, strand breaks detected in frozen whole blood were significantly correlated with breaks measured in frozen PBMC (Pearson correlation r = 0.54, P < 0.01). This correlation was however not observed for FPG-sensitive sites. Since we do not yet know the full extent to which cryopreservation might influence the blood cell population, care should be taken to ensure a similar cell type and storage conditions for all samples in one study.
Article
The cytokinesis-block micronucleus cytome (CBMN Cyt) assay was used to evaluate the baseline frequency of cytogenetic damage in peripheral blood lymphocytes of the general population (average age, 38.28 ± 12.83 years) in relation to age, sex, body mass index, seasonal variations (season of sampling, period of sampling and different meteorological parameters) and lifestyle factors (smoking habit, alcohol consumption, exposure to medications and diagnostic radiation, physical activity, and family history of cancer). The background frequency of micronuclei (MNi) for the 200 subjects assayed was 5.06 ± 3.11 per 1000 binucleated cells, while the mean frequency of nucleoplasmic bridges (NPBs) was 1.21 ± 1.46 and of nuclear buds (NBUDs) 3.48 ± 2.14. The background frequency of apoptosis and necrosis was 1.58 ± 1.50 and 1.39 ± 1.56, respectively, while the mean nuclear division index (NDI) was 1.99 ± 0.14. The cut-off value, which corresponds to the 95th percentile of the distribution of 200 individual values, was 11 MNi, 4 NPBs and 7 NBUDs. The study also confirmed an association of the above mentioned parameters with age, sex and several lifestyle factors. Moreover, significant confounders based on our results are also sampling season, sampling period and different meteorological parameters that were dependent on the CBMN Cyt assay parameters. In line with the above mentioned, several factors should be taken into account when it comes to the monitoring of exposed populations using cytogenetic biomarkers. Moreover, the normal and cut-off values obtained in this study present background data for the general population, and can later serve as baseline values for further biomonitoring studies.
Article
Since there are several predicting factors associated with the comet assay parameters, we have decided to assess the impact of seasonal variations on the comet assay results. A total of 162 volunteers were retrospectively studied, based on the date when blood donations were made. The groups (winter, spring, summer and autumn) were matched in terms of age, gender, smoking status, body mass index and medical diagnostic exposure in order to minimise the impact of other possible predictors. Means and medians of the comet assay parameters were higher when blood was sampled in the warmer period of the year, the values of parameters being the highest during summer. Correlation of meteorological data (air temperature, sun radiation and sun insolation) was observed when data were presented as the median per person. Using multivariate analysis, sampling season and exposure to medical radiation were proved to be the most influential predictors for the comet assay parameters. Taken together, seasonal variation is another variable that needs to be accounted for when conducting a cohort study. Further studies are needed in order to improve the statistical power of the results related to the impact of sun radiation, air temperature and sun insolation on the comet assay parameters.
Article
DNA damage and alterations in global DNA methylation status are associated with multiple human diseases and are frequently correlated with clinically relevant information. Therefore, assessing DNA damage and epigenetic modifications, including DNA methylation, is critical for predicting human exposure risk of pharmacological and biological agents. We previously developed a higher-throughput platform for the single cell gel electrophoresis (comet) assay, CometChip, to assess DNA damage and genotoxic potential. Here, we utilized the methylation-dependent endonuclease, McrBC, to develop a modified alkaline comet assay, "EpiComet," which allows single platform evaluation of genotoxicity and global DNA methylation [5-methylcytosine (5-mC)] status of single-cell populations under user-defined conditions. Further, we leveraged the CometChip platform to create an EpiComet-Chip system capable of performing quantification across simultaneous exposure protocols to enable unprecedented speed and simplicity. This system detected global methylation alterations in response to exposures which included chemotherapeutic and environmental agents. Using EpiComet-Chip on 63 matched samples, we correctly identified single-sample hypermethylation (≥1.5-fold) at 87% (20/23), hypomethylation (≥1.25-fold) at 100% (9/9), with a 4% (2/54) false-negative rate (FNR), and 10% (4/40) false-positive rate (FPR). Using a more stringent threshold to define hypermethylation (≥1.75-fold) allowed us to correctly identify 94% of hypermethylation (17/18), but increased our FPR to 16% (7/45). The successful application of this novel technology will aid hazard identification and risk characterization of FDA-regulated products, while providing utility for investigating epigenetic modes of action of agents in target organs, as the assay is amenable to cultured cells or nucleated cells from any tissue. Environ. Mol. Mutagen., 2017. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Article
Telomeres are dynamic chromosome-end structures that serve as guardians of genome stability. They are known to be one of the major determinants of aging and longevity in higher mammals. Studies have demonstrated a direct correlation between telomere length and life expectancy, stress, DNA damage, and onset of aging-related diseases. This review discusses the most important factors that influence our telomeres. Various genetic and environmental factors such as diet, physical activity, obesity, and stress are known to influence health and longevity as well as telomere dynamics. Individuals currently have the opportunity to modulate the dynamics of their aging and health span, monitor these processes, and even make future projections by following their telomere dynamics. As telomeres react to positive as well as negative health factors, we should be able to directly influence our telomere metabolism, slow their deterioration, and diminish our aging and perhaps extend our life and health span.
Article
Single cell gel electrophoresis or comet assay is one of the standard methods for assessing genome damage with variety applications in fundamental research in DNA damage and repair as well as in population biomonitoring. In molecular epidemiological studies, DNA damage evaluated by comet assay is utilized as a biomarker of exposure to mutagens and carcinogens. As a rapid and sensitive technique, the comet assay permits the detection of primary DNA damage and the study of repair kinetics at the single cell level. In human studies, the comet assay has widely been used to quantify DNA damage in isolated lymphocytes from subjects exposed to several environmental or occupational agens. It has often been postulated that such cytogenetic end points in peripheral blood lymphocytes serve as reasonably reliable cancer predictors in epidemiology. Present study aimed to evaluate the levels of DNA damage in peripheral blood lymphocytes of general and occupationaly exposed population to ionizing and non-ionizing radiation. Results indicate that comet assay revealed heterogenecity in the level of DNA breakage induced in human peripheral lymphocytes exposed to physical mutagens. Increased comet values measured in peripheral blood lymphocytes indicated significant levels of primary DNA damage after exposure to both types of radiation. In this context, the comet assay provides a relatively simple, cheap and rapid method to examine DNA damage and repair and could therefore be used as a possible biomarker for the cancer detection.
Article
The comet assay (single cell gel electrophoresis) is the most common method for measuring DNA damage in eukaryotic cells or disaggregated tissues. The assay depends on the relaxation of supercoiled DNA in agarose-embedded nucleoids (the residual bodies remaining after lysis of cells with detergent and high salt), which allows the DNA to be drawn out towards the anode under electrophoresis, forming comet-like images as seen under fluorescence microscopy. The relative amount of DNA in the comet tail indicates DNA break frequency. The assay has been modified to detect various base alterations, by including digestion of nucleoids with a lesion-specific endonuclease. We describe here recent technical developments, theoretical aspects, limitations as well as advantages of the assay, and modifications to measure cellular antioxidant status and different types of DNA repair. We briefly describe the applications of this method in genotoxicity testing, human biomonitoring, and ecogenotoxicology.
Article
Background: Single cell gel electrophoresis, or the comet assay, was devised as a sensitive method for detecting DNA strand breaks, at the level of individual cells. A simple modification, incorporating a digestion of DNA with a lesion-specific endonuclease, makes it possible to measure oxidised bases. Scope of review: With the inclusion of formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase to recognise oxidised purines, or Nth (endonuclease III) to detect oxidised pyrimidines, the comet assay has been used extensively in human biomonitoring to monitor oxidative stress, usually in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Major conclusions: There is evidence to suggest that the enzymic approach is more accurate than chromatographic methods, when applied to low background levels of base oxidation. However, there are potential problems of over-estimation (because the enzymes are not completely specific) or under-estimation (failure to detect lesions that are close together). Attempts have been made to improve the inter-laboratory reproducibility of the comet assay. General significance: In addition to measuring DNA damage, the assay can be used to monitor the cellular or in vitro repair of strand breaks or oxidised bases. It also has applications in assessing the antioxidant status of cells. In its various forms, the comet assay is now an invaluable tool in human biomonitoring and genotoxicity testing. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Current methods to study reactive oxygen species - pros and cons and biophysics of membrane proteins. Guest Editor: Christine Winterbourn.
Article
O(6)meG is one of the most pre-mutagenic, pre-carcinogenic and pre-cytotoxic DNA lesion formed by alkylating agents. Repair of this DNA damage is achieved by the protein MGMT, which transfers the alkyl groups from the O(6)position of guanine to a cysteine residue in the active centre of MGMT. Since O(6)meG repair by MGMT, is a stoichiometric reaction that irreversibly inactivates MGMT, which is subsequently degraded, the repair capacity of O(6)meG lesions is dependent on existing MGMT active molecules. In the absence of active MGMT, O(6)meG is not repaired and during replication, O(6)meG:T mispairs are formed. MMR system recognizes these mispairs and introduces a gap into the strand. If O(6)meG remains in one of the template strands the futile MMR repair process will be repeated, generating more SB.The toxicity of O(6)meG is, therefore, dependent on MMR and DNA SB induction of cell death. MGMT, on the other hand, protects against O(6)meG toxicity by removing the methyl residue from the guanine. While removal of O(6)meG makes MGMT an important anticarcinogenic mechanism of DNA repair its activity significantly decreases the efficacy of cancer chemotherapeutic drugs that aim at achieving cell death through the action of the MMR system on unrepaired O(6)meG lesions. Here, we report on a modification of the comet assay (CoMeth) that allows the qualitative assessment of O(6)meG lesions after their conversion to strand breaks in proliferating MMR proficient cells after MGMT inhibition. This functional assay allows the testing of compounds with effects on O(6)meG levels, as well as on MGMT or MMR activity in a proliferating cell system. The expression of MGMT and MMR genes is often altered by promoter methylation and new epigenetically active compounds are being designed to increase chemotherapeutic efficacy. The CoMeth assay allows the testing of compounds with effects on O(6)meG, MGMT or MMR activity. This proliferating cells system complements other methodologies that look at effects on these parameters individually through analytical chemistry or in vitro assays with recombinant proteins.
Article
The comet assay (single-cell gel electrophoresis), which measures DNA strand breaks at the level of single cells, is very easily applied to human lymphocytes, and therefore lends itself to human biomonitoring studies. For the examination of DNA base oxidation (a specific marker of oxidative damage), the assay is modified by including a stage at which the DNA is incubated with a suitable lesion-specific endonuclease. Here we report on the reliability and reproducibility of this approach, from the level of comparing results from duplicate gels prepared from the same sample of cells, up to an assessment of the natural intra- and interindividual variability in lymphocyte DNA damage measured in groups of normal, healthy human volunteers. We applied the assay in investigations of human disease and occupational exposure of factory workers. Environ. Mol. Mutagen. 30:139–146, 1997. © 1997 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Article
A role for DNA damage is central to many theories of aging, but attempts to show an increase in DNA damage with age have yielded contradictory results. However, previous experiments have been of limited sensitivity, only able to examine induced (not basal) damage or pooled (not individual) cells. In this report, we apply a novel technique (Singh et al., 1988) to directly measure basal levels of DNA single-strand breaks and alkali-labile sites in individual human peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) obtained from young (less than 60 years) and old (more than 60 years) male donors. This approach shows that while average changes with age are small, changes in certain individuals and in certain cells may be large: the mean increase in damage was only 12%, but the increase in a subpopulation of highly damaged lymphocytes was 5-fold. However, most of this increase was contributed by just 3 of 17 older subjects. Further characterization of these individuals may shed light on the relationship between DNA damage and aging.
Article
The single cell gel electrophoresis (comet assay) is a popular method for measuring DNA migration as an estimate of DNA damage. No standardised comet assay protocol exists, which make comparisons between studies complicated. In a previous inter-laboratory validation study of the comet assay, we identified important parameters in the protocol that might affect DNA migration. The aim of this study was to assess how different comet assay protocols affect DNA migration. The results in this study suggest that (i) there is a significant linear dose-response relationship between the agarose gel's density and DNA migration and that damaged cells are more sensitive to the agarose gel's density; (ii) incubation with formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase for 10 min is inadequate, whereas 30 min is sufficient; (iii) the typically used 20 min of alkaline treatment might be to short when analysing samples that contain particular alkali-labile sites (ALS) and (iv) the duration of electrophoresis as well as the strength of the electric field applied affects the DNA migration. By using protocol-specific calibration curves, it is possible to reduce the variation in DNA migration caused by differences in comet assay protocols. This does, however, not completely remove the impact of the durations of alkaline treatment and electrophoresis when analysing cells containing ALS that are relatively resistant to high alkaline treatment.
Article
The comet assay is now the method of choice for measuring most kinds of DNA damage in cells. However, due to the lack of a standardised protocol inter-laboratory comparisons are of limited value. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate how small changes in comet-assay variables may significantly affect the results. We examined the effect of varying agarose concentrations, alkaline unwinding time, electrophoresis time, voltage and current, by use of two cell types, viz. human peripheral blood lymphocytes and the lymphoblastoid cell line TK-6. All these variables have marked effects on assay performance and, therefore, on the determination of DNA damage. Here we identify factors of particular importance.
Article
Due to increased usage of microwave radiation, there are concerns of its adverse effect in today's society. Keeping this in view, study was aimed at workers occupationally exposed to pulsed microwave radiation, originating from marine radars. Electromagnetic field strength was measured at assigned marine radar frequencies (3 GHz, 5.5 GHz and 9.4 GHz) and corresponding specific absorption rate values were determined. Parameters of the comet assay and micronucleus test were studied both in the exposed workers and in corresponding unexposed subjects. Differences between mean tail intensity (0.67 vs. 1.22) and moment (0.08 vs. 0.16) as comet assay parameters and micronucleus test parameters (micronuclei, nucleoplasmic bridges and nuclear buds) were statistically significant between the two examined groups, suggesting that cytogenetic alterations occurred after microwave exposure. Concentrations of glutathione and malondialdehyde were measured spectrophotometrically and using high performance liquid chromatography. The glutathione concentration in exposed group was significantly lower than in controls (1.24 vs. 0.53) whereas the concentration of malondialdehyde was significantly higher (1.74 vs. 3.17), indicating oxidative stress. Results suggests that pulsed microwaves from working environment can be the cause of genetic and cell alterations and that oxidative stress can be one of the possible mechanisms of DNA and cell damage.
Article
The comet assay (single cell gel electrophoresis) is a cost-effective, sensitive, and simple technique that is traditionally used for analyzing and quantifying DNA damage in individual cells. The aim of this study was to determine whether the comet assay could be modified to detect changes in the levels of DNA methylation in single cells. We used the difference in methylation sensitivity of the isoschizomeric restriction endonucleases HpaII and MspI to demonstrate the feasibility of the comet assay to measure the global DNA methylation level of individual cells. The results were verified with the well-established cytosine extension assay. We were able to show variations in DNA methylation after treatment of cultured cells with 5-azacytidine and succinylacetone, an accumulating metabolite in human tyrosinemia type I.
Article
The Single Cell Gel Electrophoresis (Comet) assay, originally developed to allow visualisation of DNA strand break damage in individual cells, has been adapted to measure DNA interstrand cross-links. DNA interstrand cross-links are formed in cells by a number of commonly used cancer chemotherapy agents and are considered to be the critical lesion formed by such agents. This technique allows the analysis of DNA interstrand cross-link formation and repair at a single cell level, requires few cells, allows the determination of heterogeneity of response within a cell population and is sensitive enough to measure DNA interstrand cross-links at pharmacologically relevant doses. The method can be applied to any in vitro or in vivo application where a single cell suspension can be obtained. The method has also become invaluable in studies using human tissue and can be used as a method for pharmacodynamic analysis in early clinical trials.
Article
Mammalian cells were after irradiation suspended in melted agarose, and casted on microscope slides. The slides were after gelling at 0 degree C immersed in a neutral detergent solution which lysed the cells. A weak electric field (5 V/cm) was then applied over the gel for 5 minutes. The DNA in the gel was stained with the fluorescent dye acridine orange and gives a green emission in a microscope photometer. DNA had migrated towards the anode and this migration was more pronounced in irradiated than in control cells. The differences in migration pattern were quantitatively measured. The lower detection limit was below 0.5 Gy and a plateau in the dose-effect curve was reached at about 3 Gy. In repair experiments residual DNA damage could be observed after postirradiation incubation for 60 minutes. The advantages of the method is: no radioactive labelling and only a few number of cells is required.
Article
The comet test (single cell gel electrophoresis, SCGE) appears to be a promising tool to estimate DNA damage at the single cell level and it provides information on the presence of damage among individual cells. Previously, we analyzed the degree of DNA damage in peripheral human lymphocytes from 100 healthy subjects living in Pisa (Italy) taking into account age, gender and smoking habit, and we also reported some results aiming at the assessment of the comet test (Betti el al., 1994). In addition, SCE analysis was carried out in order to compare the two endpoints. Because of the interesting results obtained, the present study was extended to 200 individuals, and data analyzed included information concerning number of cigarettes smoked a day, tar/cigarette and job. Data obtained confirmed that the SCGE is more sensitive than SCE in revealing smoking habit effects but comet induction did not seem to be related to the amount of cigarette tar inhaled. Moreover, sampling time was found to play a greater role in the comet assay as compared to SCE. Job position did not significantly influence SCE mean/subject or comet length mean/subject.
Article
The aim of the reported study was to investigate the reproducibility of the single-cell gel electrophoresis (SCGE) assay in the determination of DNA single-strand breaks (SSBs) and to estimate the statistical requirements when the SCGE assay is used for the detection of genotoxicity in humans. In human peripheral mononuclear leukocytes (PMLs), we repeatedly measured the rate of SSBs after in vitro incubation of cells for 1 h at 4 degrees C in phosphate buffered saline (PBS, basal) or 10 microM or 50 microM H2O2 (induced). Intra-assay variation was determined from cryopreserved PMLs of a single donor. To assess intrasubject and intersubject variation, PMLs of ten healthy, nonsmoking subjects (aged 19-37 years) were tested 5-9 times. Cryopreserved cells revealed a mean coefficient of variation of 18% (PBS) and 7%-9% (H2O2). There were statistically significant differences between individuals in the rate of SSBs after incubation in PBS (P < 0.01), 10 microM H2O2 (P < 0.001), and 50 microM H2O2 (P < 0.001). The range of interindividual variability was 26% for basal and 12%-13% for induced SSBs, and the coefficient of intraindividual variation was 18%-72% (PBS) and 7%-23% (H2O2). Neither basal nor induced rates of DNA damage were related to gender or age. Estimates of the minimum detectable effects were based on these observed sources of variability (power 90%, level of significance 5%, assumed sample size 50). With two different groups, a difference of 31% in basal SSBs or 12% in induced SSBs would be detectable. Repeated measurement within one group could detect a difference of 26% in basal and 9% in induced SSBs. In summary, the SCGE assay appears to be suitable for the detection of single-strand breaks, e.g., in biomonitoring or environmental medicine, and the statistical requirements could be derived from our analysis of the sources of variability.
Article
Single cell gel electrophoresis (SCGE), or comet assay, appears to be a promising tool to estimate DNA damage at the single cell level and it provides information on the presence of damage among individual cells. A follow-up study of 90 smokers who ceased smoking was undertaken to determine the possible decrease of DNA damage in their leukocytes. Before beginning the trial, volunteers smoked on average 26.1 +/- 8.4 cigarettes/day. Comet length did not correlate with the number of cigarettes/day or with the condensate tar content. At the end of the study, 28 volunteers had abandoned the trial, 40 volunteers relapsed into smoking at different times, but with a reduced number of cigarettes/day, whereas 22 fully succeeded in smoking cessation. Throughout the 5 sampling times, a great variability of comet length at individual level was found. However, after 1 year of follow-up, comet length means were found to be significantly shorter (p < 0.0001) in those volunteers who completely quit smoking compared to those who relapsed into smoking (27.2 +/- 1.6 vs. 31.9 +/- 5.1 microns, respectively), irrespective of the amount of cigarettes previously smoked. No effect of age or sex was found. Six months later, these results were confirmed by a further study carried out on a reduced sample of volunteers. The present data strongly suggest that, in spite of the great variability observed, 1 year of smoking cessation is associated with a significant reduction of DNA damage in circulating leukocytes.
Article
DNA damage and the formation of stable carcinogen-DNA adducts are considered critical events in the initiation of the carcinogenic process. This study was carried out to assess whether exposure of plastics industry workers to the vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) for different periods of time would cause DNA damage, using the single-cell gel electrophoresis (SCGE) technique. Levels of DNA damage was assessed by both extent of DNA migration and numbers of DNA damaged spots in the peripheral blood lymphocytes from 32 plastics workers with different periods of exposure to VCM; they were evaluated by comparison with a group of non-exposed individuals. It was found that plastics workers who were exposed to VCM for different periods of time showed significantly increased levels of DNA damage compared with the non-exposed subjects. There was a significant correlation between the severity of DNA damage and duration of exposure. However, no significant correlation was found between the age of all subjects and DNA damage. Concentrations of VCM in the air inside the factory were found to be significantly higher than values in non-exposed areas, despite being lower than the threshold limit value (TLV). Our results encourage the application of SCGE as a sensitive, simple, fast and useful technique in the regular health screening of workers occupationally exposed to VCM (even at concentrations below the TLV) to assess the possibility of any DNA damage.
Article
We examined a group of people professionally at risk of exposure to low doses of ionizing radiation (altogether 49 individuals). Age, use of therapeutic drugs, work-related exposure to hazardous agents, previous exposures to diagnostic X-rays, such as patient and nuclear medical examination, were registered. For each individual, the occupational radiation burden received over the past period of 5 years was taken from the official personal records based on film dosimetry controlled every month. A matched group of controls was chosen among the administrative employees (40 individuals). The mean age of the studied population at the time of blood sampling was 49 years (range 24-69). The individuals were divided into groups according to risk of exposure and sex. The alkaline comet assay was used to measure DNA breaks and alkali-labile sites. We compared the mean tail moments, tail length and percentage of DNA in the tail. There was a significant difference between the control and hazard groups in DNA damage. Higher DNA damage was also found for men than for women in the control group. There was no relation of DNA damage to age either in control or hazard group. Additionally, analysis of distributions of tail moment values pointed to a considerable individual diversity even in the control group. Therefore, further investigations were necessary into the suitability of the comet assay as a biological dosimetry method; the results obtained so far warrant such investigations.
Article
The alkaline comet assay is a sensitive test for the detection of a variety of DNA lesions. However, crosslinks are not readily detected under standard test conditions. Recently, modifications have been introduced measuring crosslinks by determining the reduction of induced DNA migration. We used the comet assay to comparatively investigate in V79 cells the effect of three different crosslinkers: formaldehyde (FA), which predominantly induces DNA-protein crosslinks, cisplatin (DDP), which mainly produces DNA-DNA-intrastrand crosslinks, and mitomycin C (MMC), which mainly leads to DNA-DNA-interstrand crosslinks. In the standard alkaline comet assay, only MMC induced a slight increase in DNA migration at high toxic concentrations. FA and DDP did not induce any DNA migration under the test conditions used. In the modified comet assay, all three crosslinkers led to a clear reduction of gamma-ray-induced DNA migration. This reduction was seen in the case of FA parallel to the induction of cytotoxicity and SCE, while for MMC and DDP induction of cytotoxicity, SCE and HPRT gene mutations occurred at much lower concentrations than the effects in the comet assay. The DNA-DNA crosslinkers caused a reduction of induced DNA migration only at cytotoxic concentrations. Our results indicate that the modified comet assay protocol is a sensitive test for the detection of DNA-protein crosslinks. However, the results for MMC and DDP suggest that the modified protocol is not well suited for the evaluation of DNA-DNA crosslinkers. Furthermore, the relationship between crosslinking and genotoxicity seems to be very different for the three different types of crosslinking substances.
Article
Atthe International Workshop on Genotoxicity Test Procedures (IWGTP) held in Washington, DC, March 25-26, 1999, an expert panel met to develop guidelines for the use of the single-cell gel (SCG)/Comet assay in genetic toxicology. The expert panel reached a consensus that the optimal version of the Comet assay for identifying agents with genotoxic activity was the alkaline (pH > 13) version of the assay developed by Singh et al. [1988]. The pH > 13 version is capable of detecting DNA single-strand breaks (SSB), alkali-labile sites (ALS), DNA-DNA/DNA-protein cross-linking, and SSB associated with incomplete excision repair sites. Relative to other genotoxicity tests, the advantages of the SCG assay include its demonstrated sensitivity for detecting low levels of DNA damage, the requirement for small numbers of cells per sample, its flexibility, its low costs, its ease of application, and the short time needed to complete a study. The expert panel decided that no single version of the alkaline (pH > 13) Comet assay was clearly superior. However, critical technical steps within the assay were discussed and guidelines developed for preparing slides with agarose gels, lysing cells to liberate DNA, exposing the liberated DNA to alkali to produce single-stranded DNA and to express ALS as SSB, electrophoresing the DNA using pH > 13 alkaline conditions, alkali neutralization, DNA staining, comet visualization, and data collection. Based on the current state of knowledge, the expert panel developed guidelines for conducting in vitro or in vivo Comet assays. The goal of the expert panel was to identify minimal standards for obtaining reproducible and reliable Comet data deemed suitable for regulatory submission. The expert panel used the current Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) guidelines for in vitro and in vivo genetic toxicological studies as guides during the development of the corresponding in vitro and in vivo SCG assay guidelines. Guideline topics considered included initial considerations, principles of the test method, description of the test method, procedure, results, data analysis and reporting. Special consideration was given by the expert panel to the potential adverse effect of DNA degradation associated with cytotoxicity on the interpretation of Comet assay results. The expert panel also discussed related SCG methodologies that might be useful in the interpretation of positive Comet data. The related methodologies discussed included: (1) the use of different pH conditions during electrophoreses to discriminate between DNA strand breaks and ALS; (2) the use of repair enzymes or antibodies to detect specific classes of DNA damage; (3) the use of a neutral diffusion assay to identify apoptotic/necrotic cells; and (4) the use of the acellular SCG assay to evaluate the ability of a test substance to interact directly with DNA. The alkaline (pH > 13) Comet assay guidelines developed by the expert panel represent a work in progress. Additional information is needed before the assay can be critically evaluated for its utility in genetic toxicology. The information needed includes comprehensive data on the different sources of variability (e.g., cell to cell, gel to gel, run to run, culture to culture, animal to animal, experiment to experiment) intrinsic to the alkaline (pH > 3) SCG assay, the generation of a large database based on in vitro and in vivo testing using these guidelines, and the results of appropriately designed multilaboratory international validation studies.