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Abstract

This optimized protocol (including links to instruction videos) describes a comet-based in vitro DNA repair assay that is relatively simple, versatile, and inexpensive, enabling the detection of base and nucleotide excision repair activity. Protein extracts from samples are incubated with agarose-embedded substrate nucleoids (‘naked’ supercoiled DNA) containing specifically induced DNA lesions (e.g., resulting from oxidation, UVC radiation or benzo[a]pyrene-diol epoxide treatment). DNA incisions produced during the incubation reaction are quantified as strand breaks after electrophoresis, reflecting the extract’s incision activity. The method has been applied in cell culture model systems, human biomonitoring and clinical investigations, and animal studies, using isolated blood cells and various solid tissues. Once extracts and substrates are prepared, the assay can be completed within 2 d. This protocol describes a comet-based in vitro assay for detecting base and nucleotide excision repair activity for use in cell culture model systems, human biomonitoring and clinical investigations, and animal studies, using isolated blood cells and various solid tissues.

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... The in vitro DNA repair assay is based on the ability of protein extracts, from cells or tissues, to recognise and incise in the sites of the specific DNA lesions artificially induced in substrate cells (76,77). This version of the comet assay can be used to assess BER or NER, depending on the type of lesions present in the substrate cells (i.e. ...
... The assay is rarely performed in fresh samples; normally PBMCs are isolated from the volunteers and slowly frozen in freezing medium or snap-frozen as a cell pellet. In any of the cases, the samples are stored at −80ºC until the day of the analysis, when the extraction procedure is carried out (77). The assay cannot be performed with WB due to the presence of haemoglobin. ...
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.
... The comet assay (single cell gel electrophoresis) is an effective technique for rapid detection of DNA damage and its repair [25,26,[149][150][151][152][153][154][155][156][157]. The comet assay can be applied to almost any cell type from various tissues and organs of eukaryotic organisms. ...
... Tail moment is usually defined as the product of tail length and % tail DNA and is calculated by a computer program [26,152,153,173,[198][199][200][201]. Detailed protocols for the comet assay can be found in the following papers [25,26,152,157,202] including Minimum Information for Reporting Comet Assay (MIRCA) procedures and results [154]. ...
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.
... Recently, there has been a surge of articles describing the comet assay procedure for both DNA damage and repair, as well as recommendations for minimal information on procedures and results that need to be reported in papers [69][70][71]. In addition, a number of papers on technical issues and recommendations to prepare positive assay controls and cryopreservation of cells have been published [72][73][74]. ...
Article
The comet assay is used to measure DNA damage induced by chemical and physical agents. High concentrations of test agents may cause cytotoxicity or cell death, which may give rise to false positive results in the comet assay. Systematic studies on genotoxins and cytotoxins (i.e. non-genotoxic poisons) have attempted to establish a threshold of cytotoxicity or cell death by which DNA damage results measured by the comet assay could be regarded as a false positive result. Thresholds of cytotoxicity/cell death range from 20% to 50% in various publications. Curiously, a survey of the latest literature on comet assay results from cell culture studies suggests that one-third of publications did not assess cytotoxicity or cell death. We recommend that it should be mandatory to include results from at least one type of assay on cytotoxicity, cell death or cell proliferation in publications on comet assay results. A combination of cytotoxicity (or cell death) and proliferation (or colony forming efficiency assay) is preferable in actively proliferating cells because it covers more mechanisms of action. Applying a general threshold of cytotoxicity/cell death to all types of agents may not be applicable; however, 25% compared to the concurrent negative control seems to be a good starting value to avoid false positive comet assay results. Further research is needed to establish a threshold value to distinguish between true and potentially false positive genotoxic effects detected by the comet assay.
... The percentage of comet tail area (the proportion of the DNA tail area to the total DNA area) and the length of the comet tail (from the center of the DNA head to the end of the DNA tail) of 50 cells were subjected to monolithic analysis. The experiment was conducted three times independently [30]. Z. Liu et al. ...
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Dysregulation of the cell cycle and the resulting aberrant cellular proliferation has been highlighted as a hallmark of cancer. Certain traditional Chinese medicines can inhibit cancer growth by inducing cell cycle arrest. In this study we explore the effect of Hedyotis diffusae Herba-Andrographis Herba on the cell cycle of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). Hedyotis diffusae Herba-Andrographis Herba-containing serum was prepared and then added to the cell culture medium. BrdU, comet, and FUCCI assays, western blot analysis and flow cytometry analysis revealed that Hedyotis diffusae Herba-Andrographis Herba treatment significantly alters cell proliferation, DNA damage, and cell cycle distribution. Xenograft mouse model experiments were performed, confirming these in vitro findings in vivo. Treatment with Hedyotis diffusae Herba-Andrographis Herba inhibited cell proliferation, promoted DNA damage, and arrested NPC cells progression from G1 to S phase. Further examination of the underlying molecular mechanisms revealed that treatment with Hedyotis diffusae Herba-Andrographis Herba increased the expression of p53 and p21, while reducing that of CCND1, Phospho-Rb, E2F1, γH2AX, and Ki-67 both in vivo and in vitro. Conversely, the inhibition of p53 and p21 could abolish the promoting effect of Hedyotis diffusae Herba-Andrographis Herba on the NPC cell cycle arrest at the G1 phase, contributing to the proliferation of NPC cells. Hedyotis diffusae Herba-Andrographis Herba suppressed the tumor growth in vivo. Overall, these findings suggest that Hedyotis Diffusae Herba-Andrographis prevent the progression of NPC by inducing NPC cell cycle arrest at the G1 phase through a p53/p21-dependent mechanism, providing a novel potential therapeutic treatment against NPC.
... Using such modifications provides more specific understanding of the type of DNA damage induced. Detailed protocols for the comet assay can be found in the following papers [1,5,12,25,26] including Minimum Information for Reporting Comet Assay (MIRCA) procedures and results [27]. Here, we will briefly describe a protocol for the sperm comet assay (Box 1). ...
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.
... The third popular version of measuring DNA repair activity using comet assay is to use a cellular extract containing repair enzymes. The extract is then incubated with substrate cells harboring specifically induced lesions (Vodenkova et al. 2020). In this variation, any excision of lesions must be due to DNA repair. ...
Article
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The comet assay is widely used in basic research, genotoxicity testing, and human biomonitoring. However, interpretation of the comet assay data might benefit from a better understanding of the future fate of a cell with DNA damage. DNA damage is in principle repairable, or if extensive, can lead to cell death. Here, we have correlated the maximally induced DNA damage with three test substances in TK6 cells with the survival of the cells. For this, we selected hydrogen peroxide (H 2 O 2 ) as an oxidizing agent, methyl methanesulfonate (MMS) as an alkylating agent and etoposide as a topoisomerase II inhibitor. We measured cell viability, cell proliferation, apoptosis, and micronucleus frequency on the following day, in the same cell culture, which had been analyzed in the comet assay. After treatment, a concentration dependent increase in DNA damage and in the percentage of non-vital and apoptotic cells was found for each substance. Values greater than 20–30% DNA in tail caused the death of more than 50% of the cells, with etoposide causing slightly more cell death than H 2 O 2 or MMS. Despite that, cells seemed to repair of at least some DNA damage within few hours after substance removal. Overall, the reduction of DNA damage over time is due to both DNA repair and death of heavily damaged cells. We recommend that in experiments with induction of DNA damage of more than 20% DNA in tail, survival data for the cells are provided.
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Carbon black exposure causes oxidative stress, inflammation and genotoxicity. The objective of this systematic review was to assess the contributions of primary (i.e. direct formation of DNA damage) and secondary genotoxicity (i.e. DNA lesions produced indirectly by inflammation) to the overall level of DNA damage by carbon black. The database is dominated by studies that have measured DNA damage by the comet assay. Cell culture studies indicate a genotoxic action of carbon black, which might be mediated by oxidative stress. Many in vivo studies originate from one laboratory that has investigated the genotoxic effects of Printex 90 in mice by intra-tracheal instillation. Meta-analysis and pooled analysis of these results demonstrate that Printex 90 exposure is associated with a slightly increased level of DNA strand breaks in bronchoalveolar lavage cells and lung tissue. Other types of genotoxic damage have not been investigated as thoroughly as DNA strand breaks, although there is evidence to suggest that carbon black exposure might increase the mutation frequency and cytogenetic endpoints. Stratification of studies according to concurrent inflammation and DNA damage does not indicate that carbon black exposure gives rise to secondary genotoxicity. Even substantial pulmonary inflammation is at best only associated with a weak genotoxic response in lung tissue. In conclusion, the review indicates that nanosized carbon black is a weak genotoxic agent and this effect is more likely to originate from a primary genotoxic mechanism of action, mediated by e.g. oxidative stress, than inflammation-driven (secondary) genotoxicity.
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We report on a paper-based sensor capable of performing template-independent DNA synthesis by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT). Importantly, we observed that TdT efficiently incorporates fluorescently labeled dUTP on to 3'-OH ends of DNA strands in a strictly controllable manner on cellulose paper, in comparison to its distributive mode of DNA synthesis in solution. Due to the high roughness and porous nature of cellulose paper, we attribute this controllable DNA polymerization to the pore confinement effect on the catalytic behaviour of TdT. Taking advantage of this finding, we proposed a paper-assisted TdT (PAT) assay for absolute quantification of alkylated DNA lesions (N7-methylguanine), DNA deamination (cytosine-to-uracil) and DNA oxidation (8-oxo-7,8-dihydroguanine) by combining various DNA glycosylases. This PAT assay provides a low-cost, high throughput and easy to use method for quantifying the absolute levels of various types of DNA lesions, thus making it well-suited for drug development, genotoxicity testing, and environmental toxicology.
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Levels of DNA damage represent the dynamics between damage formation and removal. Therefore, to better interpret human biomonitoring studies with DNA damage endpoints, an individual’s ability to recognize and properly remove DNA damage should be characterized. Relatively few studies have included DNA repair as a biomarker and therefore, assembling and analyzing a pooled database of studies with data on base excision repair (BER) was one of the goals of hCOMET (EU-COST CA15132). A group of approximately 1911 individuals, was gathered from 8 laboratories which run population studies with the comet-based in vitro DNA repair assay. BER incision activity data were normalized and subsequently correlated with various host factors. BER was found to be significantly higher in women. Although it is generally accepted that age is inversely related to DNA repair, no overall effect of age was found, but sex differences were most pronounced in the oldest quartile (>61 years). No effect of smoking or occupational exposures was found. A body mass index (BMI) above 25 kg/m² was related to higher levels of BER. However, when BMI exceeded 35 kg/m², repair incision activity was significantly lower. Finally, higher BER incision activity was related to lower levels of DNA damage detected by the comet assay in combination with formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase (Fpg), which is in line with the fact that oxidatively damaged DNA is repaired by BER. These data indicate that BER plays a role in modulating the steady-state level of DNA damage that is detected in molecular epidemiological studies and should therefore be considered as a parallel endpoint in future studies.
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The comet assay is a simple technique for measurements of low levels of DNA damage and repair in single cells. However, there is variation in background levels of DNA damage in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). This variation has been documented by inter-laboratory ring-trials where identical samples have been analysed in different laboratories using the formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase (Fpg)-modified comet assay. The coefficient of variation of background levels of Fpg-sensitive sites was 128% in the first inter-laboratory validation trial called European Standards Committee on Oxidative DNA Damage. The variation was reduced to 44% by the end of the project. Subsequent ring-trials by the European Comet Assay Validation Group showed similar inter-laboratory variation in Fpg-sensitive sites in PBMCs (45%). The lowest inter-laboratory variation in Fpg-sensitive sites in PBMCs was 12% when using calibration to standardize comet assay descriptors. Introduction of standard comet assay procedures was surprisingly unsuccessful as certain laboratories experienced technical problems using unaccustomed assay conditions. This problem was alleviated by using flexible assay standard conditions rather than a standard protocol in a ring-trial by the hCOMET group. The approach reduced technical problems, but the inter-laboratory variation in Fpg-sensitive sites was not reduced. The ring-trials have not pinpointed specific assay steps as major determinants of the variation in DNA damage levels. It is likely that small differences in several steps cause inter-laboratory variation. Although this variation in reported DNA damage levels causes concern, ring-trials have also shown that the comet assay is a reliable tool in biomonitoring studies.
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Individual radiosensitivity is a critical problem in radiotherapy because of the treatment restrictions it imposes. We have tested whether induction/repair of genomic lesions correlates with the acute cutaneous effects of radiotherapy. Peripheral blood samples of 56 healthy volunteers and 18 patients with breast cancer were studied. DNA damage and DNA repair capacity were assessed in vitro (alkaline comet assay). Patients without skin reaction did not show significant differences from healthy individuals, with respect to either initial or radiation-induced DNA damage. Similar DNA repair kinetics, fitting a decreasing exponential response, were observed in both groups, and there were no significant differences in residual genotoxic damage. In contrast, patients exhibiting acute side effects showed significantly lower DNA repair ability and significantly more residual damage, compared to patients without radiotoxicity. This approach may help to identify patients who are at greater risk of radiotherapy side effects. However, many other factors, such as dosimetry, irradiated volume, and lifestyle should also be considered in the evaluation of individual radiosensitivity.
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Scope : Obesity causes DNA damage, which is causally related to several disorders including cancer, infertility and cognitive dysfunctions. Aim of this study was to investigate whether weight loss improves the integrity of the genetic material. Methods and Results : Overweight mice were fed ad libitum either with a Western diet (WD), with a 40% caloric restricted WD, or with a high carbohydrate low protein (HCLP) diet. Caloric restriction and also the HCLP diet led to ca. 30% weight loss, which was paralleled by decreased DNA damage (“comet” formation) and oxidative damage of purines in inner organs, additionally the activity of nucleotide excision repair increased. The effects were more pronounced in animals which had received the HCLP chow. Results of biochemical analyses indicated that the reduction of DNA damage was associated with a decrease of pro‐inflammatory cytokines and lower insulin levels. Conclusion : The study indicates that weight loss may prevent obesity‐associated adverse health effects due to reduction of overall DNA damage. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
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Some epidemiological studies indicate that the use of mobile phones causes cancer in humans (in particular glioblastomas). It is known that DNA damage plays a key role in malignant transformation; therefore, we investigated the impact of the UMTS signal which is widely used in mobile telecommunications, on DNA stability in ten different human cell lines (six brain derived cell lines, lymphocytes, fibroblasts, liver and buccal tissue derived cells) under conditions relevant for users (SAR 0.25 to 1.00 W/kg). We found no evidence for induction of damage in single cell gel electrophoresis assays when the cells were cultivated with serum. However, clear positive effects were seen in a p53 proficient glioblastoma line (U87) when the cells were grown under serum free conditions, while no effects were found in p53 deficient glioblastoma cells (U251). Further experiments showed that the damage disappears rapidly in U87 and that exposure induced nucleotide excision repair (NER) and does not cause double strand breaks (DSBs). The observation of NER induction is supported by results of a proteome analysis indicating that several proteins involved in NER are up-regulated after exposure to UMTS; additionally, we found limited evidence for the activation of the γ-interferon pathway. The present findings show that the signal causes transient genetic instability in glioma derived cells and activates cellular defense systems.
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Base excision repair (BER) may become less effective with ageing resulting in accumulation of DNA lesions, genome instability and altered gene expression that contribute to age-related degenerative diseases. The brain is particularly vulnerable to the accumulation of DNA lesions; hence, proper functioning of DNA repair mechanisms is important for neuronal survival. Although the mechanism of age-related decline in DNA repair capacity is unknown, growing evidence suggests that epigenetic events (e.g., DNA methylation) contribute to the ageing process and may be functionally important through the regulation of the expression of DNA repair genes. We hypothesize that epigenetic mechanisms are involved in mediating the age-related decline in BER in the brain. Brains from male mice were isolated at 3–32 months of age. Pyrosequencing analyses revealed significantly increased Ogg1 methylation with ageing, which correlated inversely with Ogg1 expression. The reduced Ogg1 expression correlated with enhanced expression of methyl-CpG binding protein 2 and ten-eleven translocation enzyme 2. A significant inverse correlation between Neil1 methylation at CpG-site2 and expression was also observed. BER activity was significantly reduced and associated with increased 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2′-deoxyguanosine levels. These data indicate that Ogg1 and Neil1 expression can be epigenetically regulated, which may mediate the effects of ageing on DNA repair in the brain.
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The comet assay, a very useful tool in genotoxicity and DNA repair testing, is being applied to Drosophila melanogaster since around 15 years ago, by several research groups. This organism is a valuable model for all kind of processes related to human health, including DNA damage response. The assay has been performed mainly in vivo using different larvae cell types (from brain, midgut, hemolymph, and imaginal disk), but also in vitro with the S2 cell line. Since its first application, it has been used to analyze the genotoxicity and action mechanisms of different chemicals, demonstrating good sensitivity and proving its usefulness. Moreover, it is the only assay that can be used to analyze DNA repair in somatic cells in vivo, comparing the effects of chemicals in different repair strains, and to quantitate repair activities in vitro. Additionally, the comet assay in Drosophila, in vivo and in vitro, has been applied to study the influence of protein overexpression on genome integrity and degradation. Although the assay is well established, it could benefit from some research to determine optimal experimental design to standardize it, and then to allow comparisons among laboratories independently of the chosen cell type.
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Cellular repair enzymes remove virtually all DNA damage before it is fixed; repair therefore plays a crucial role in preventing cancer. Repair studied at the level of transcription correlates poorly with enzyme activity, and so assays of phenotype are needed. In a biochemical approach, substrate nucleoids containing specific DNA lesions are incubated with cell extract; repair enzymes in the extract induce breaks at damage sites; and the breaks are measured with the comet assay. The nature of the substrate lesions defines the repair pathway to be studied. This in vitro DNA repair assay has been modified for use in animal tissues, specifically to study the effects of aging and nutritional intervention on repair. Recently, the assay was applied to different strains of Drosophila melanogaster proficient and deficient in DNA repair. Most applications of the repair assay have been in human biomonitoring. Individual DNA repair activity may be a marker of cancer susceptibility; alternatively, high repair activity may result from induction of repair enzymes by exposure to DNA-damaging agents. Studies to date have examined effects of environment, nutrition, lifestyle, and occupation, in addition to clinical investigations.
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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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Purpose: DNA repair capacity (DRC) is a determinant not only of cancer development but also of individual response to therapy. Previously, altered base and nucleotide excision repair (BER and NER) have been described in lymphocytes of patients with sporadic colorectal cancer. We, for the first time, evaluate both excision repair capacities in human colon biopsies to study their participation in colorectal tumorigenesis. Experimental design: Seventy pairs of tumor and adjacent healthy tissues were analyzed for BER- and NER-specific DRC by a comet repair assay. Tissue pairs were further compared for expression levels of a panel of 25 BER and NER genes complemented by their promoter methylation status. Results: We observed a moderate increase of NER-DRC (P = 0.019), but not of BER-DRC in tumors. There was a strong correlation between both tissues for all investigated parameters (P < 0.001). However, 4 NER (CSB, CCNH, XPA, XPD) and 4 BER (NEIL1, APEX1, OGG1, PARP1) genes showed a 1.08- to 1.28-fold change difference in expression in tumors (P < 0.05). Individual gene expression levels did not correlate with overall DRC, and we did not detect any aberrant methylation of the investigated genes. Conclusions: Our complex analysis showed that tumor cells are not deficient in BER and NER, but rather follow patterns characteristic for each individual and are comparable with adjacent tissue. Alteration of excision repair pathways is not a pronounced event in colorectal carcinogenesis. This study shows the feasibility of DRC evaluation in human solid tissues, representing a complex marker of multigene DNA repair processes.
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Thousands of DNA lesions are estimated to occur in each cell every day and almost all are recognized and repaired. DNA repair is an essential system that prevents accumulation of mutations which can lead to serious cellular malfunctions. Phenotypic evaluation of DNA repair activity of individuals is a relatively new approach. Methods to assess base and nucleotide excision repair pathways (BER and NER) in peripheral blood cells based on modified comet assay protocols have been widely applied in human epidemiological studies. These provided some interesting observations of individual DNA repair activity being suppressed among cancer patients. However, extension of these results to cancer target tissues requires a different approach. Here we describe the evaluation of BER and NER activities in extracts from deep-frozen colon biopsies using an upgraded version of the in vitro comet-based DNA repair assay in which 12 reactions on one microscope slide can be performed. The aim of this report is to provide a detailed, easy-to-follow protocol together with results of optimization experiments. Additionally, results obtained by functional assays were analyzed in the context of other cellular biomarkers, namely single nucleotide polymorphisms and gene expressions. We have shown that measuring DNA repair activity is not easily replaceable by genomic or transcriptomic approaches, but should be applied with the latter techniques in a complementary manner. The ability to measure DNA repair directly in cancer target tissues might finally answer questions about the tissue-specificity of DNA repair processes and their real involvement in the process of carcinogenesis.
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Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality in the world. Chemotherapy has been the mainstay of treatment for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and platinum-based derivatives have been shown to improve overall survival. The aim of the present study was to investigate the DNA damage [single strand breaks (SSBs) and DNA crosslinks] and DNA repair in peripheral blood lymphocytes in patients with NSCLC treated with platinum derivatives using modified comet assay. Twenty patients in the final (4th) stage of NSCLC and 10 age-corresponding healthy controls participated in the study. Alkaline comet assay was performed according to the appropriate protocol. The DNA base excision repair (BER) activity of the controls was significantly higher compared to that of cancer patients, and the activity of DNA nucleotide excision repair (NER) was almost at the same level both in controls and patients. We observed changes in the amount of SSBs and DNA crosslinks during the course of chemotherapy. We found a significantly higher level of SSBs immediately after administration of chemotherapy. Similarly, we found the highest incidence of DNA crosslinks immediately or 1 day after chemotherapy (compared to measurement before chemotherapy). Moreover, we compared the levels of DNA repair in patients who survived chemotherapy with those in patients who died in the course of chemotherapy: the activity of BER was higher in the case of surviving patients, while the levels of NER were essentially the same. The data arising from the present study confirm the findings of other studies dealing with DNA damage and repair in cancer patients treated with chemotherapy. Moreover, our results indicated that despite the fact that cisplatin-DNA adducts are removed by the NER pathway, BER may also play a role in the clinical status of patients and their survival.
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DNA repair mechanisms are important for genome stability and to prevent accumulation of DNA damage, which contributes to cellular ageing and cancer development. Study of these physiological processes requires robust and practical assays to quantify DNA repair capacity. The in vitro comet-based assay is a simple, yet reliable, assay for measurement of DNA repair and has been modified recently to quantify DNA incision activity in mouse brain and liver. In this study, we applied this assay to assess DNA incision activity in other mouse tissues, i.e. lung and colon, and found that high, non-specific nuclease activity was a problem when measuring DNA incision activity, especially in the colon. We tested the utility of multiple optimisation steps including addition of aphidicolin, ATP and polyAT and used multiple wash steps, which resulted in modest improvements in performance of the assay. Washing the tissues before protein extraction and decreasing the protein concentration in the assay were the most effective steps in reducing non-specific nuclease activity. Using the comet-based assay with these further modifications, we found that base excision repair incision activity changed with age differently in each tissue. This study shows that non-specific nuclease activity in the comet-based assay for DNA repair is more pronounced in some tissues than others so care should be taken to optimise the protocol when applying the assay to a new tissue. Our data suggest the importance of using control cells (noRo cells incubated with extract) in the assay to assess for non-specific nuclease activity. In conclusion, the comet-based DNA repair assay can be easily adapted to study a range of mammalian tissues.
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The mechanisms through which environmental and dietary factors modulate DNA repair are still unclear but may include dysregulation of gene expression due to altered epigenetic markings. In a mouse model, we investigated the effect of maternal folate depletion during pregnancy and lactation, and high-fat feeding from weaning, on base excision repair (BER) and DNA methylation and expression of selected BER-related genes in the brain of adult offspring. While folate depletion did not affect BER activity of the mothers, BER increased in the offspring at weaning (P=0.052). In the long term, as observed in 6-mo-old offspring, the double insult, i.e., maternal low-folate supply and high-fat feeding from weaning, decreased BER activity significantly in the cortex, cerebellum, hippocampus, and subcortical regions (P≤0.017). This fall in BER activity was associated with small changes in methylation or expression of BER-related genes. Maternal folate depletion led to slightly increased oxidative DNA damage levels in subcortical regions of adult offspring, which may increase sensitivity to oxidative stress and predispose to neurological disorders. In summary, our data suggest that low-folate supply during early life may leave an epigenetic mark that can predispose the offspring to further dietary insults, causing adverse effects during adult life.-Langie, S. A. S., Achterfeldt, S., Gorniak, J. P., Halley-Hogg, K. J. A., Oxley, D., van Schooten, F. J., Godschalk, R. W. L., McKay, J. A., Mathers, J. C. Maternal folate depletion and high-fat feeding from weaning affects DNA methylation and DNA repair in brain of adult offspring.
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Aims: Dietary antioxidants, including vitamin C, may be in part responsible for the cancer-preventive effects of fruits and vegetables. Human intervention trials with clinical endpoints have failed to confirm their protective effects, and mechanistic studies have given inconsistent results. Our aim was to investigate antioxidant/ pro-oxidant effects of vitamin C at the cellular level. Experimental approach: We have used the comet assay to investigate effects of vitamin C on DNA damage, antioxidant status, and DNA repair, in HeLa (human tumor) cells, and HPLC to measure uptake of vitamin C into cells. Results: Even at concentrations in the medium as high as 200 μM, vitamin C did not increase the background level of strand breaks or of oxidized purines in nuclear DNA. Vitamin C is taken up by HeLa cells and accumulates to mM levels. Preincubation of cells with vitamin C did not render them resistant to strand breakage induced by H2O2 or to purine oxidation by photosensitizer plus light. Vitamin C had no effect on the rate of repair of strand breaks or oxidized bases by HeLa cells. However, vitamin C at a concentration of less than 1 μM, or extract from cells preincubated for 6 h with vitamin C, was able to induce damage (strand breaks) in lysed, histone-depleted nuclei (nucleoids). Conclusion: In these cultured human cells, vitamin C displays neither antioxidant nor pro-oxidant properties; nor does it affect DNA strand break or base excision repair.
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The major mutagenic base lesion in DNA caused by exposure to reactive oxygen species is 8-hydroxyguanine (8-oxo-7,8-dihydroguanine). In bacteria and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, this damaged base is excised by a DNA glycosylase with an associated lyase activity for chain cleavage. We have cloned, sequenced, and expressed a human cDNA with partial sequence homology to the relevant yeast gene. The encoded 47-kDa human enzyme releases free 8-hydroxyguanine from oxidized DNA and introduces a chain break in a double-stranded oligonucleotide specifically at an 8-hydroxyguanine residue base paired with cytosine. Expression of the human protein in a DNA repair-deficient E. coli mutM mutY strain partly suppresses its spontaneous mutator phenotype. The gene encoding the human enzyme maps to chromosome 3p25. These results show that human cells have an enzyme that can initiate base excision repair at mutagenic DNA lesions caused by active oxygen.
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Only a minority of smokers develop lung cancer, possibly due to genetic predisposition, including DNA repair deficiencies. To examine whether inter-individual variations in DNA repair activity of N-methylpurine DNA glycosylase (MPG) are associated with lung cancer, we conducted a blinded, population-based, case-control study with 100 lung cancer case patients and 100 matched control subjects and analyzed the data with conditional logistic regression. All statistical tests were two-sided. MPG enzyme activity in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from case patients was higher than in control subjects, results opposite that of 8-oxoguanine DNA glycosylase (OGG1) DNA repair enzyme activity. For lung cancer associated with one standard deviation increase in MPG activity, the adjusted odds ratio was 1.8 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.2 to 2.6; P = .006). A combined MPG and OGG1 activities score was more strongly associated with lung cancer risk than either activity alone, with an odds ratio of 2.3 (95% CI = 1.4 to 3.6; P < .001). These results form a basis for a future panel of risk biomarkers for lung cancer risk assessment and prevention.
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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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Alteration of DNA integrity is a potential cause of cancer and it is assumed that reduced DNA repair capacity and accumulation of DNA damage may represent intermediate markers in carcinogenesis. In this case-control study, DNA damage and nucleotide excision repair capacity (NER-DRC) were assessed in association with sporadic colorectal cancer (CRC). Both parameters were quantified by comet assay in blood cells of 70 untreated incident patients and 70 age-matched healthy controls. mRNA expression and polymorphisms in relevant NER genes were concurrently analyzed. The aim of this study was to characterize incident CRC patients for NER-DRC and to clarify possible relations between investigated variables. Comet assay and mRNA expression analysis showed that CRC patients differ in repair capacity as compared to controls. Patients had a lower NER-DRC and simultaneously they exhibited higher endogenous DNA damage (for both P < 0.001). Accumulation of DNA damage and decreasing NER-DRC behaved as independent modulating parameters strongly associated with CRC. Expression levels of 6 out of 9 studied genes differed between groups (P ≤ 0.001), but none of them was related to DRC or to any of the studied NER polymorphisms. However, in patients only, XPC Ala499Val modulated expression levels of XPC, XPB and XPD gene, whereas XPC Lys939Gln was associated with XPA expression level in controls (for all P < 0.05). This study provides evidence on altered DRC and DNA damage levels in sporadic CRC and proposes the relevance of the NER pathway in this malignancy. Further, alterations in a complex multigene process like DNA repair may be better characterized by functional quantification of repair capacity than by quantification of individual genes transcripts or gene variants alone.
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The health positive effects of diets high in fruits and vegetables are generally not replicated in supplementation trials with isolated antioxidants and vitamins, and as a consequence the emphasis of chronic disease prevention has shifted to whole foods and whole food products. We carried out a human intervention trial with the golden kiwifruit, Actinidia chinensis, measuring markers of antioxidant status, DNA stability, plasma lipids, and platelet aggregation. Our hypothesis was that supplementation of a normal diet with kiwifruits would have an effect on biomarkers of oxidative status. Healthy volunteers supplemented a normal diet with either one or two golden kiwifruits per day in a cross-over study lasting 2 × 4 weeks. Plasma levels of vitamin C, and carotenoids, and the ferric reducing activity of plasma (FRAP) were measured. Malondialdehyde was assessed as a biomarker of lipid oxidation. Effects on DNA damage in circulating lymphocytes were estimated using the comet assay with enzyme modification to measure specific lesions; another modification allowed estimation of DNA repair. Plasma vitamin C increased after supplementation as did resistance towards H₂O₂-induced DNA damage. Purine oxidation in lymphocyte DNA decreased significantly after one kiwifruit per day, pyrimidine oxidation decreased after two fruits per day. Neither DNA base excision nor nucleotide excision repair was influenced by kiwifruit consumption. Malondialdehyde was not affected, but plasma triglycerides decreased. Whole blood platelet aggregation was decreased by kiwifruit supplementation. Golden kiwifruit consumption strengthens resistance towards endogenous oxidative damage.
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During the past two decades, the comet-based in vitro DNA repair assay has been used regularly to measure base excision repair (BER)-related DNA incision activity. Most studies focus on the assessment of BER in human lymphocytes or cultured cells by estimating the activity of a cell extract on substrate DNA containing specific lesions such as 8-oxoguanine. However, for many 'real-life' studies, it would be preferable to measure BER in the tissues of interest instead of using in vitro models or surrogate 'tissues' such as lymphocytes. Various attempts have been made to use the comet-based repair assay for BER with extracts from rodent tissues, but high non-specific nuclease activity in such tissues were a significant impediment to robust estimates of BER. Our aim in this study was to optimise the in vitro repair assay for BER for use with rodent tissues using extracts from liver and brain from C57/BL mice. Because the DNA incision activity of an extract is dependent on its protein concentration, the first optimisation step in preventing interference by non-specific nuclease activity was to determine the protein concentration at which there is a maximal difference between the total and non-specific damage recognition. This protein concentration was 5 mg/ml for mouse liver extracts and 1 mg/ml for brain extracts. Next, we tested addition of proteinase inhibitors during the preparation of the tissue extracts, but this did not improve the sensitivity of the assay. However, addition of 1.5 μM aphidicolin to the tissue extracts improved the detection of DNA repair incision activity by reducing non-specific nuclease activity and possibly by blocking residual DNA polymerase activity. Finally, the assay was tested on tissue samples from an ageing mouse colony and in mice undergoing dietary restriction and proved capable of detecting significant inter-animal differences and nutritional effects on BER-related DNA incision activity.
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As part of a project to develop high throughput versions of the comet assay (single cell gel electrophoresis), with a consequent need for more efficient scoring, we have compared the performance of visual scoring, automated and semi-automated image analysis when assessing comets in the same set of gels from dose-response experiments with typical DNA-damaging agents. Human lymphoblastoid TK-6 cells were treated with concentrations of methylmethanesulphonate between 0.04 and 0.6 mM, and peripheral human lymphocytes were incubated, after embedding in agarose, with H(2)O(2) concentrations from 2.5 to 160 μM. All three scoring methods proved capable of detecting a significant level of damage at the lowest concentration of each agent. Visual scoring systematically overestimates low levels of damage compared with computerised image analysis; on the other hand, heavily damaged comets are less efficiently detected with image analysis. Overall, the degree of agreement between the scoring methods is within acceptable limits according to a Bland-Altman analysis.
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Cruciferous vegetables contain compounds with antioxidant properties (e.g. carotenoids, vitamin C and folates) and can alter the activity of xenobiotic metabolism (i.e. isothiocyanates). These constituents may be particularly important for subjects who are exposed to free radicals and genotoxic compounds, including smokers. The aim of the study was to evaluate the effect of broccoli intake on biomarkers of DNA damage and repair. Twenty-seven young healthy smokers consumed a portion of steamed broccoli (250 g/day) or a control diet for 10 days each within a crossover design with a washout period. Blood was collected before and after each period. The level of oxidatively damaged DNA lesions (formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase-sensitive sites), resistance to ex vivo H(2)O(2) treatment and repair of oxidised DNA lesions were measured in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). We also measured mRNA expression levels of repair and defence enzymes: 8-oxoguanine DNA glycosylase (OGG1), nucleoside diphosphate linked moiety X-type motif 1 (NUDT1) and heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1). After broccoli consumption, the level of oxidised DNA lesions decreased by 41% (95% confidence interval: 10%, 72%) and the resistance to H(2)O(2)-induced DNA strand breaks increased by 23% (95% CI: 13%, 34%). Following broccoli intake, a higher protection was observed in subjects with glutathione S-transferase (GST) M1-null genotype. The expression level and activity of repair enzymes was unaltered. In conclusion, broccoli intake was associated with increased protection against H(2)O(2)-induced DNA strand breaks and lower levels of oxidised DNA bases in PBMCs from smokers. This protective effect could be related to an overall improved antioxidant status.
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Vegetable carbon (E153) and titanium dioxide (E171) are widely used as black and white food colour additives. The aim of this study was to assess gastrointestinal tight junction and systemic genotoxic effects in rats following exposure to E153 and E171 for 10 weeks by oral gavage once a week. The expression of tight junction proteins was assessed in intestinal tissues. Levels of DNA strand breaks, oxidatively damaged DNA and telomere length were assessed in secondary organs. Hydrodynamic suspensions of E153 and E173 indicated mean particles sizes of 230 and 270 nm, respectively, and only E153 gave rise to intracellular production of reactive oxygen species in colon epithelial (Caco-2) cells. Rats exposed to E153 (6.4 mg/kg/week) or E171 (500 mg/kg/week) had decreased gene expression of the tight junction protein TJP1 (P < 0.05). E153 (6.4 mg/kg/week) also decreased OCLN (P < 0.05) in the colon and occludin protein expression in the small intestine (P < 0.05). Furthermore, E153 or E171 exposed rats had shorter telomeres in the lung (P < 0.05). Plasma from particle-exposed rats also produced telomere shortening in cultured lung epithelial cells. There were unaltered levels of oxidatively damaged DNA in the liver and lung and no changes in the DNA repair activity of oxidatively damaged DNA in the lung. Altogether, these results indicate that intragastric exposure to E153 and E171 is associated with reduced tight junction protein expression in the intestinal barrier and telomere length shortening in the lung in rats.
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The comet assay offers the opportunity to measure both DNA damage and repair. Various comet assay based methods are available to measure DNA repair activity, but some requirements should be met for their effective use in human biomonitoring studies. These conditions include i) robustness of the assay, ii) sources of inter- and intra-individual variability must be known, iii) DNA repair kinetics should be assessed to optimize sampling timing; and iv) DNA repair in accessible surrogate tissues should reflect repair activity in target tissues prone to carcinogenic effects. DNA repair phenotyping can be performed on frozen and fresh samples, and is a more direct measurement than genomic or transcriptomic approaches. There are mixed reports concerning the regulation of DNA repair by environmental and dietary factors. In general, exposure to genotoxic agents did not change base excision repair (BER) activity, whereas some studies reported that dietary interventions affected BER activity. On the other hand, in vitro and in vivo studies indicated that nucleotide excision repair (NER) can be altered by exposure to genotoxic agents, but studies on other life style related factors, such as diet, are rare. Thus, crucial questions concerning the factors regulating DNA repair and inter-individual variation remain unanswered. Intra-individual variation over a period of days to weeks seems limited, which is favourable for DNA repair phenotyping in biomonitoring studies. Despite this reported low intra-individual variation, timing of sampling remains an issue that needs further investigation. A correlation was reported between the repair activity in easily accessible peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and internal organs for both NER and BER. However, no correlation was found between tumour tissue and blood cells. In conclusion, although comet assay based approaches to measure BER/NER phenotypes are feasible and promising, more work is needed to further optimize their application in human biomonitoring and intervention studies.
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The enzyme-modified comet assay is a commonly used method to detect specific DNA lesions. However, still a lot of errors are made by many users, leading to dubious results and even misinterpretations. This technical note describes some critical points in the use of the enzyme-modified comet assay, such as the enzyme concentration, the time of incubation, the format used and the equipment. To illustrate the importance of these conditions/parameters, titration experiments of formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase (Fpg) were performed using the 2 gels/slide and the 12 minigels/slide formats (plus the 12-Gel Comet Assay Unit™). Incubation times of 15 and 30 min, and 1 h were used. Results showed that the 12 minigels/slide system requires a lower volume and concentration of Fpg. A longer time of incubation has a bigger impact when using such format. Moreover, the paper describes how to perform and interpret a titration experiment when using the enzyme-modified comet assay.
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The DNA-damaging agent 5-fluorouracil represents the most commonly used chemotherapeutic drug for colorectal cancer patients. DNA lesions associated with 5-fluorouracil therapy are primarily repaired by base excision repair (BER) and mismatch repair (MMR) pathways. Published evidence suggests that the individual DNA repair capacity (DRC) may affect a patient's prognosis and response to chemotherapy. With this in mind, we designed a prospective study of which the main aim was to investigate BER-DRC in relation to 5-fluorouracil response as potential predictive and/or prognostic biomarker. BER-DRC was supplemented by a microsatellite instability (MSI) analysis which represents an indirect marker of MMR activity in the tumor. All parameters were measured in paired samples of tumor tissue and non-malignant adjacent mucosa of 123 incident colon cancer patients. Our results indicate that BER-DRC in non-malignant adjacent mucosa was positively associated with overall survival (P = 0.007) and relapse-free survival (P = 0.04). Additionally, in multivariate analysis, good therapy responders in TNM stage II and III with an elevated BER-DRC in mucosa exhibited better overall survival. Moreover, the overall survival of these patients was even better in the presence of a decreased BER-DRC in tumor tissue. The ratio of BER-DRC in tumor tissue over BER-DRC in mucosa positively correlated with advanced tumor stage (P = 0.003). With respect to MSI, we observed that MSI-high tumors were mostly localized in proximal colon; however, in our cohort, the MSI status affected neither patients' prognosis nor survival. In summary, the results of the present study suggest that the level of BER-DRC is associated with patients' survival. BER-DRC represents a potential prognostic biomarker, applicable for prediction of therapy response and useful for individual approach to patients.
Article
The formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase (Fpg) and human 8-oxoguanine DNA glycosylase (hOGG1)-modified comet assays have been widely used in human biomonitoring studies. The purpose of this article is to assess differences in reported levels of Fpg- and hOGG1-sensitive sites in leukocytes and suggest suitable assay controls for the measurement of oxidatively damaged DNA. An assessment of the literature showed a large variation in the reported levels of Fpg-sensitive sites (range 0.05-1.31 lesions/106 bp). The levels of Fpg-sensitive sites are lower in studies where Fpg has been obtained from commercial suppliers or unknown sources as compared to Fpg from one particular non-commercial source (χ2 = 7.14, P = 0.028). The levels of hOGG1-sensitive sites are lower (range: 0.04-0.18 lesions/106 bp in leukocytes) compared to the Fpg-sensitive sites. Surprisingly, few publications have reported the use of oxidising agents as assay controls, with the exception of hydrogen peroxide. This may be due to a lack of consensus about suitable controls for the Fpg- and hOGG1-modified comet assay. A major challenge is to find an oxidising agent that only oxidises nucleobases and does not generate DNA strand breaks because this reduces the dynamic range of Fpg- and hOGG1-sensitive sites in the comet assay. Based on a literature search we selected the photosensitiser Ro19-8022 plus light, KBrO3, 4-nitroquinoline-1-oxide, Na2Cr2O7 and ferric nitrilotriacetate as possible assay controls. A subsequent assessment of these compounds for generating cryopreserved assay controls in mononuclear blood cells showed that Ro19-8022 plus light, KBrO3 and 4-nitroquinoline-1-oxide provided suitable assay controls. We recommend these compounds as comet assay controls for oxidatively damaged DNA.
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One type of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) (MWCNT-7, from Mitsui) has been classified as probably carcinogenic to humans, however insufficient data does not warrant the same classification for other types of CNTs. Experimental data indicate that CNT exposure can result in oxidative stress and DNA damage in cultured cells, whereas these materials appear to induce low or no mutagenicity. Therefore, the present study aimed to investigate whether in vitro exposure of cultured airway epithelial cells (A549) to multi-walled CNTs (MWCNTs) could increase the DNA repair activity of oxidatively damaged DNA and drive the cells toward replicative senescence, assessed by attrition of telomeres. To investigate this, H2O2 and KBrO3 were used to induce DNA damage in the cells and the effect of pre-exposure to MWCNT tested for a change in repair activity inside the cells or in the extract of treated cells. The effect of MWCNT exposure on telomere length was investigated for concentration and time response. We report a significantly increased repair activity in A549 cells exposed to MWCNTs compared to non-exposed cells, suggesting that DNA repair activity may be influenced by exposure to MWCNTs. The telomere length was decreased at times longer than 24h, but this decrease was not concentration dependent. The results suggest that the seemingly low mutagenicity of CNTs in cultured cells may be associated with an increased DNA repair activity and a replicative senescence, which may counteract the manifestation of DNA lesions to mutations.
Chapter
Drosophila melanogaster is a useful model for genetic studies, including DNA repair. In addition to all the advantages of this model organism, there are several strains available which are efficient and deficient in different DNA repair pathways, and the mechanisms of action of many compounds are very well known in vivo. The analysis of DNA repair capacity in Drosophila can be achieved by following two different approaches with comet assay: in vivo, DNA repair assay, by performing the assay with different repair condition strains, direct analysis of cells/individuals, and comparison between/among them through statistical regression analysis, and in vitro, DNA repair assay, by incubating a substrate nucleoid DNA from cells pretreated with a specific damaging agent with a cell-free protein extract obtained from mashed adult flies. In this chapter, we provide a comprehensive overview, introduce the principal of the assays, and provide the details for the conduct of both versions of the assay.
Article
The comet assay (single-cell gel electrophoresis) is a simple, sensitive method for measuring DNA strand breaks, widely used in genotoxicity testing, human biomonitoring, ecogenotoxicology and fundamental research into mechanisms of DNA damage and repair. Cells embedded in agarose on a glass slide are lysed, leaving supercoiled DNA loops attached to the nuclear matrix as "nucleoids". Electophoresis attracts DNA to the anode, but only those loops with breaks migrate, forming a comet-like image on fluorescence microscopy. The relative intensity of the comet tail reflects the frequency of DNA breaks, with a detection range up to a few thousand breaks per cell. DNA breaks, being produced by many diverse agents and as intermediates in DNA repair, are an unspecific marker of damage. More detailed information is obtained by incorporating a digestion with a lesion-specific endonuclease, after the lysis step. Here, we concentrate on the detection of strand breaks and oxidized bases in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells or cultured mammalian cells. We cover preparation of cells, precoating of slides, embedding the cells in agarose, lysis, enzyme digestion, alkaline electrophoresis, fixation and staining, and scoring of comets both visually and with computerized image analysis.
Article
Regular physical exercise has been shown to be one of the most important lifestyle influences on improving functional performance, decreasing morbidity and all causes of mortality among older people. However, it is known that acute physical exercise may induce an increase in oxidative stress and oxidative damage in several structures, including DNA. Considering this, the purpose of this study was to identify the effects of 16 weeks of combined physical exercise in DNA damage and repair capacity in lymphocytes. In addition, we aimed to investigate the role of oxidative stress involved in those changes. Fifty-seven healthy men (40 to 74 years) were enrolled in this study. The sample was divided into two groups: the experimental group (EG), composed of 31 individuals, submitted to 16 weeks of combined physical exercise training; and the control group (CG), composed of 26 individuals, who did not undergo any specifically orientated physical activity. We observed an improvement of overall physical performance in the EG, after the physical exercise training. A significant decrease in DNA strand breaks and FPG-sensitive sites was found after the physical exercise training, with no significant changes in 8-oxoguanine DNA glycosylase enzyme activity. An increase was observed in antioxidant activity, and a decrease was found in lipid peroxidation levels after physical exercise training. These results suggest that physical exercise training induces protective effects against DNA damage in lymphocytes possibly related to the increase in antioxidant capacity.
Article
It has been hypothesised that positive associations between age and levels of oxidative stress-generated damage to DNA may be related to an age-dependent decline in DNA repair activity. The objective of this study was to investigate the association between age and repair activity of oxidatively damaged DNA in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). We isolated PBMCs from subjects aged 18-83 years, as part of a health survey of the Danish population that focussed on lifestyle factors. The level of DNA repair activity was measured as incisions on potassium bromate-damaged DNA by the comet assay. There was an inverse association between age and DNA repair activity with a 0.65% decline in activity per year from age 18 to 83 (95% confidence interval: 0.16-1.14% per year). Univariate regression analysis also indicated inverse associations between DNA repair activity and waist-hip ratio (P < 0.05) and plasma concentrations of glycosylated hemoglobin (P = 0.07). However, multivariate regression analysis only showed an inverse association between age and DNA repair activity (P < 0.05), indicating that the decline in repair activity was not mediated by metabolic risk factors. In summary, the results show an inverse association between age and DNA repair activity of oxidatively damaged DNA. © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the UK Environmental Mutagen Society. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.
Article
DNA oxidation is a potential cause of cancer in humans. It is well-known that fruits and vegetables protect against cancer, and this may be in part because they contain antioxidants, which decrease the level of oxidation of DNA. However, there are other possible mechanisms, such as an enhancement of cellular repair of this damage. A randomized cross-over study was carried out on healthy human subjects, who were given kiwifruit as a supplement to their normal diet, for 3-week periods at different ‘doses’, with 2-week washout periods between doses. Endogenous oxidation of bases in lymphocyte DNA, and the resistance of the DNA to oxidation ex vivo, were assessed using single cell gel electrophoresis (the ‘comet assay’). The capacity to repair DNA base oxidation was measured with an in vitro test, and levels of expression of repair-related genes OGG1 and APE1 were assessed by semi-quantitative RT–PCR. Concentrations of dietary antioxidants were measured in plasma. The antioxidant status of plasma and of lymphocytes was increased by consumption of kiwifruit. Levels of endogenous oxidation of pyrimidines and purines in DNA were markedly decreased, and DNA repair measured on a substrate containing 8-oxo-7,8-dihydroguanine was substantially increased (without change in levels of OGG1 or APE1 mRNA). The magnitude of these effects was generally not related to the number of kiwifruits consumed per day. Kiwifruit provides a dual protection against oxidative DNA damage, enhancing antioxidant levels and stimulating DNA repair. It is probable that together these effects would decrease the risk of mutagenic changes leading to cancer.
Article
Green tea has many reported health benefits, including genoprotective and antioxidant effects, but green tea has pro-oxidant activity in vitro. A tea-induced pro-oxidant shift that triggers cytoprotective adaptations has been postulated, but human data are lacking. We investigated effects on oxidation-induced DNA damage and redox-linked cytoprotective factors, including 8-oxoguanine glycosylase (hOGG1) and heme oxygenase 1 (HMOX-1) in lymphocytes in a randomised, placebo-controlled, cross-over supplementation trial. hOGG1 catalyses the first step in base excision repair; increased HMOX-1 is a sign of cytoprotective response to pro-oxidant change. The influence of microsatellite polymorphisms in the HMOX-1 promoter region was also explored. Higher numbers of GT repeats [GT(n)] in this region reportedly diminish response to pro-oxidant change. Green tea [2×150ml of 1% w/v tea/day (or water as control)] was taken for 12 weeks by 43 Type 2 diabetes subjects {20 with short [S/S; GT(n) < 25] and 23 with long [L/L; GT(n) ≥ 25]}. Fasting venous blood was collected before and after each treatment. The formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase-assisted comet assay was used to measure DNA damage in lymphocytes. For measuring hOGG1 activity, we used photo-damaged HeLa cells incubated with lymphocyte extracts from test subjects, in combination with the comet assay. Lymphocyte HMOX-1 and hOGG1 protein concentrations and expression (mRNA) of redox-sensitive genes, including HMOX-1 and hOGG1, were also investigated. Results showed significantly (P < 0.01) lower (~15%) DNA damage, higher (~50%) hOGG1 activity and higher (~40%) HMOX-1 protein concentration after tea. No changes in mRNA expression were seen. Baseline HMOX-1 protein and hOGG1 activity were higher (P < 0.05) in the S/S group, but tea-associated responses were similar in both GT(n) groups. Green tea is clearly associated with lowered DNA damage, increased hOGG1 activity and higher HMOX-1 protein levels. Further study is needed to confirm a cause and effect relationship and to establish if these effects are mediated by post-translational changes in proteins or by increased gene expression. © The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the UK Environmental Mutagen Society. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.
Article
DNA repair is a major mechanism for minimizing mutations and reducing cancer risk. Here we present the development of reproducible and specific enzymatic assays for methylpurine DNA glycosylase (MPG) repairing the oxidative lesions 1,N6-ethenoadenine (εA) and hypoxanthine (Hx) in PBMC protein extracts. Association of these DNA repair activities with lung cancer was determined using conditional logistic regression with specimens from a population-based case-control study with 96 lung cancer cases and 96 matched control subjects. The mean MPG-εA in case patients was 15.8 units/μg protein (95%CI 15.3-16.3), significantly higher than in control subjects - 15.1 (14.6-15.5), *P=0.011. The adjusted odds ratio for lung cancer associated with a one-SD increase in MPG-εA activity (2.48 units) was significantly bigger than 1 (OR=1.6, 95% CI=1.1-2.4; *P =0.013). When activity of OGG1, a different DNA repair enzyme for oxidative damage, was included in the model, the estimated odds ratio/SD for a combined MPG-εA-OGG1 score was 2.6 (95%CI 1.6-4.2) *P=0.0001, higher than the odds ratio for each single assay. The MPG enzyme activity assays described provide robust functional risk biomarkers, with increased MPG-εA activity being associated with increased lung cancer risk, similar to the behavior of MPG-Hx. This underscores the notion that imbalances in DNA repair, including high DNA repair, usually perceived as beneficial, can cause cancer risk. Such DNA repair risk biomarkers may be useful for risk assessment of lung cancer and perhaps other cancer types, and for early detection techniques such as low-dose CT.
Article
Increased levels of oxidatively damaged DNA have been documented in studies of metal, metal oxide, carbon-based and ceramic engineered nanomaterials (ENMs). In particular, 8-oxo-7,8-dihydroguanine-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-oxodG) is widely assessed as a DNA nucleobase oxidation product, measured by chromatographic assays, antibody-based methods or the comet assay with DNA repair enzymes. However, spurious oxidation of DNA has been a problem in certain studies applying chromatographic assays, yielding high baseline levels of 8-oxodG. Antibody-based assays detect high 8-oxodG baseline levels, related to cross-reactivity with other molecules in cells. This review provides an overview of efforts to reliably detect oxidatively damaged DNA and a critical assessment of the published studies on DNA damage levels. Animal studies with high baseline levels of oxidatively damaged DNA are more likely to show positive associations between airway exposure to ENMs and oxidized DNA in lung tissue than studies showing acceptable baseline levels (odds ratio = 12.1, 95% confidence interval: 1.2–124). Nevertheless, reliable studies indicate that intratracheal instillation of nanosized carbon black is associated with increased levels of oxidatively damaged DNA in lung tissue. Oral exposure to nanosized carbon black, TiO2, carbon nanotubes and ZnO is associated with elevated levels of oxidatively damaged DNA in tissues. These observations are supported by cell culture studies showing concentration-dependent associations between ENM exposure and oxidatively damaged DNA measured by the comet assay. Cell culture studies show relatively high variation in the ability of ENMs to oxidatively damage DNA; hence, it is currently impossible to group ENMs according to their DNA damaging potential. Environ. Mol. Mutagen., 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Article
Oxidative stress via redox reactions can regulate DNA repair pathways. The base excision repair (BER) enzyme apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease 1 (APE1) is a key player in the redox regulation of DNA repair. Environmental factors can alter the methylation of DNA repair genes, change their expression and thus modulate BER activity and susceptibility to oxidative DNA damage. Therefore, we hypothesized that epigenetic modifications play a role in the redox regulation of APE1 in hippocampi of newborns and investigated the effect of supplementation of pregnant sows with a diet enriched in antioxidants and other nutrients on oxidative stress, DNA methylation and DNA repair in their offspring. High levels of 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-oxodG) and low levels of glutathione were detected in control piglets after birth compared with supplemented piglets, indicating the presence of oxidative stress. In control animals, this oxidative stress was associated with genomic DNA demethylation, decreased APE1 promoter methylation, increased APE1 expression and with slightly but not statistically significant increased BER-related DNA incision activity. Supplementation of piglets with antioxidants and other nutrients significantly lowered 8-oxodG levels compared to control animals, which was accompanied by overall lower APE1 promoter methylation and enhanced APE1 expression at day 7-28 after birth in supplemented piglets, although DNA incision activity was not significantly different between groups. Preliminary attempts to study the interaction between redox and epigenetic regulatory mechanisms revealed an inverse correlation between APE1 expression and methylation of CpG-sites 11 and 13 in the promoter region, which according to Genomatix "MatInspector" are located in the core binding sites of redox-sensitive transcription factors. We are the first to study methylation of the APE1 promoter and its role in mediating the functional effects of redox reactions induced by oxidative stress. Epigenetic and redox mechanisms may interact in regulating APE1-related DNA repair processes, involving redox-sensitive TFs.
Article
DNA repair in blood cells was observed to be suboptimal in cancer patients at diagnosis, including colorectal cancer (CRC). To explore the causality of this phenomenon, we studied the dynamics of DNA repair from diagnosis to 1 yr follow-up, and with respect to CRC treatment. Systemic CRC therapy is targeted to DNA damage induction and DNA repair is thus of interest. CRC patients were blood-sampled three times in 6-mo intervals, starting at the diagnosis, and compared to healthy controls. DNA repair was characterized by mRNA levels of 40 repair genes, by capacity of nucleotide excision repair (NER), and by levels of DNA strand breaks (SBs). NER and base excision repair genes were significantly under-expressed (P < 0.016) in patients at diagnosis compared to controls, in accordance with reduced NER function (P = 0.008) and increased SBs (P = 0.015). Six months later, there was an increase of NER capacity, but not of gene expression levels, in treated patients only. A year from diagnosis, gene expression profiles and NER capacity were significantly modified in all patients and were no longer different from those measured in controls. All patients were free of relapse at the last sampling, so we were unable to clarify the impact of DNA repair parameters on treatment response. However, we identified a panel of blood DNA repair-related markers discerning acute stage of the disease from the remission period. In conclusion, our results support a model in which DNA repair is altered as a result of cancer. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Article
The aim of this study was to determine if the differences observed in the levels of DNA damage in a group of patients suffering from chronic renal failure are due to differences in the repair capability. DNA damage was initially measured with the comet assay in 106 hemodialysis patients. A selected group of 21 patients representing high (ten patients) and low (11 patients) levels of DNA damage were obtained for determination of base excision repair capacity. This was measured in an in vitro assay where protein extracts from lymphocytes were incubated with a substrate of DNA containing 8-oxoguanine, and the rate of incision was measured with the comet assay. Patients with high levels of genomic damage showed, as an average, significantly lower repair capacity (12·73 ± 1·84) in comparison with patients with low levels of genomic damage (18·13 ± 1·13). Nevertheless, the correlation coefficient between repair ability and levels of genomic damage was found to be only close to the significance value (r:-0·423, p: 0·056). Although DNA damage was clearly related to time on hemodialysis, base excision repair capacity was not. This is one of the few studies providing information on the repair capacity of chronic renal failure patients undergoing hemodialysis. As a summary, our results would indicate that DNA damage levels are in part associated to the repair capacity of the patients, and this repair capacity is not associated with the duration of hemodialysis treatment. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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
A serious limitation of the conventional comet assay (single cell gel electrophoresis) is the restriction on the number of samples that can be processed in one experiment, imposed by the size of the electrophoresis platform. One approach to increasing throughput is to reduce the size of gels. We here compare the conventional system of two large gels on a microscope slide, with two recent developments, namely 12 minigels per slide, and a format with 96 minigels on GelBond® film. We used cells treated with X-rays or methylmethanesulphonate (MMS). The level of damage detected (% tail DNA) in X-irradiated or MMS-treated cells was not affected by the format used. Parallel experiments, using all three formats, were performed with MMS-treated cells in two independent laboratories; the difference in results between the two laboratories was of borderline significance. The potential problem of anomalous comets seen at the border of the gel, the so-called 'edge effects', has been addressed. A reliable, high throughput comet assay has applications in genotoxicity testing (particularly for in vivo studies with samples from different organs) as well as ecogenotoxicology and human biomonitoring, where the numbers of samples collected can be considerable.
Article
The imbalance between the formation of 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-oxodG) in DNA and the efficiency of cellular systems of DNA protection and repair is considered an important factor in the age-dependent development of cancer. This study investigated the relationship between oxidatively damaged DNA and the activity of the DNA repair system and 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2′-deoxyguanosine 5′-triphosphate pyrophosphohydrolase (8-oxodGTPase) activity in liver and lung tissue from mice at 10–100 weeks of age. The level of 8-oxodG increased with age, whereas the level of formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase sites was unaltered. The enzyme activity toward single oxygen-induced DNA damage and mRNA expression levels of Ercc1, Neil1, and Ogg1 remained unaltered with age. However, the 8-oxodGTPase activity in the liver was 18% (95% CI: 0.2–37%) lower in mice at 25 and 50 weeks than in 10-week-old mice. The 10- and 100-week-old mice had similar 8-oxodGTPase activity. In contrast, the mRNA expression of Nudt1 was statistically unaltered that likely resulted from higher variation of measurements. The accumulation of 8-oxodG with age is not a direct consequence of decreased enzyme activity toward singlet oxygen-induced substrate DNA. An age-related higher level of 8-oxodG even occurs concomitantly with high 8-oxodGTPase activity.
Article
Glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) are members of a multigene family of isoenzymes that are important in the control of oxidative stress and in phase II metabolism. Acting non-enzymically, GSTs can modulate signalling pathways of cell proliferation, cell differentiation and apoptosis. Using a molecular epidemiology approach, we have investigated a potential involvement of GSTs in DNA damage processing, specifically the modulation of DNA repair in a group of 388 healthy adult volunteers; 239 with at least 5 years of occupational exposure to asbestos, stone wool or glass fibre, and 149 reference subjects.
Article
3-methyladenine DNA glycosylase (AlkD) belongs to a new family of DNA glycosylases; it initiates repair of cytotoxic and promutagenic alkylated bases (its main substrates being 3-methyladenine and 7-methylguanine). The modification of the comet assay (single cell gel electrophoresis) using AlkD enzyme thus allows assessment of specific DNA alkylation lesions. The resulting baseless sugars are alkali-labile, and under the conditions of the alkaline comet assay they appear as DNA strand breaks. The alkylating agent methyl methanesulfonate (MMS) was used to induce alkylation lesions and to optimize conditions for the modified comet assay method with AlkD on human lymphoblastoid (TK6) cells. We also studied cellular and in vitro DNA repair of alkylated bases in DNA in TK6 cells after treatment with MMS. Results from cellular repair indicate that 50% of DNA alkylation is repaired in the first 60 min. The in vitro repair assay shows that while AlkD recognises most alkylation lesions after 60 min, a cell extract from TK6 cells recognises most of the MMS-induced DNA adducts already in the first 15 min of incubation, with maximum detection of lesions after 60 min' incubation. Additionally, we tested the in vitro repair capacity of human lymphocyte extracts from 5 individuals and found them to be able to incise DNA alkylations in the same range as AlkD. The modification of the comet assay with AlkD can be useful for in vitro and in vivo genotoxicity studies to detect alkylation damage and repair and also for human biomonitoring and molecular epidemiology studies.
Article
Oxidatively damaged DNA base lesions are considered to be mainly repaired by 8-oxoguanine DNA glycosylase (OGG1) mediated pathways. We investigated the effect of the OGG1 Ser326Cys polymorphism on the level and repair of oxidatively damaged DNA in mononuclear blood cells (MNBC) by means of the comet assay. We collected blood samples from 1,019 healthy subjects and genotyped for the OGG1 Ser326Cys polymorphism. We found 49 subjects homozygous for the variant genotype (Cys/Cys) and selected same numbers of age-matched subjects with the heterozygous (Ser/Cys) and homozygous wild-type genotype (Ser/Ser). Carriers of the Cys/Cys genotype had higher levels of formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase (FPG) sensitive sites in MNBC (0.31 ± 0.03 lesions/10(6)bp) compared to Ser/Ser (0.19 ± 0.02 lesions/10(6)bp, P<0.01). The level of hOGG1 sensitive sites in MNBC from the Ser326Cys carriers (0.19 ± 0.16 lesions/10(6) bp) was also higher compared to the Ser/Ser genotype (0.11 ± 0.09 lesions/10(6) bp, P<0.05). Still, there was no genotype-related difference in DNA repair incision activity of MNBC extracts on nucleoids with oxidatively damaged DNA induced by Ro19-8022/white light (P=0.20). In addition, there were no differences in the expression of OGG1 (P=0.69), ERCC1 (P=0.62), MUTYH (P=0.85), NEIL1 (P=0.17) or NUDT1 (P=0.48) in whole blood. Our results indicate that the OGG1 Ser326Cys polymorphism has limited influence on the DNA repair incisions by extracts of MNBC, whereas the apparent increased risk of cancer in subjects with the Cys/Cys genotype may be because of higher levels of oxidatively damaged DNA.
Article
DNA repair plays a major role in maintaining genetic stability, and so measurement of individual DNA repair capacity should be a valued tool in molecular epidemiology studies. The comet assay (single cell gel electrophoresis), in different versions, is commonly used to measure the repair pathways represented by strand break rejoining, removal of 8-oxoguanine, and repair of bulky adducts or UV-induced damage. Repair enzyme activity generally does not reflect the level of gene expression; but there is evidence - albeit piecemeal - that it is affected by polymorphisms in repair genes. There are mixed reports concerning the regulation of repair by environmental factors; several nutritional supplementation trials with phytochemical-rich foods have demonstrated increases in base excision repair of oxidation damage, while others have shown no effect. Exposure to genotoxic agents has in general not been found to stimulate repair. Crucial questions concerning the factors regulating repair and the causes of individual variation are as yet unanswered.
Article
Hereditary tyrosinemia type 1 is an autosomal recessive metabolic disorder, which is caused by a defective fumarylacetoacetate hydrolase enzyme, and consequently metabolites such as succinylacetone and p-hydroxyphenylpyruvate accumulate. We used a modified comet assay to determine the effect of these metabolites on base- and nucleotide excision repair pathways. Our results indicate that the metabolites affected the repair mechanisms differently, since the metabolites had a bigger detrimental effect on BER than on NER.
Article
Decreased levels of single-strand breaks in DNA (SSBs), reflecting DNA damage, have previously been observed with increased styrene exposure in contrast to a dose-dependent increase in the base-excision repair capacity. To clarify further the above aspects, we have investigated the associations between SSBs, micronuclei, DNA repair capacity and mRNA expression in XRCC1, hOGG1 and XPC genes on 71 styrene-exposed and 51 control individuals. Styrene concentrations at workplace and in blood characterized occupational exposure. The workers were divided into low (below 50 mg/m³) and high (above 50 mg/m³)) styrene exposure groups. DNA damage and DNA repair capacity were analyzed in peripheral blood lymphocytes by Comet assay. The mRNA expression levels were determined by qPCR. A significant negative correlation was observed between SSBs and styrene concentration at workplace (R=-0.38, p=0.001); SSBs were also significantly higher in men (p=0.001). The capacity to repair irradiation-induced DNA damage was the highest in the low exposure group (1.34±1.00 SSB/10⁹ Da), followed by high exposure group (0.72±0.81 SSB/10⁹ Da) and controls (0.65±0.82 SSB/10⁹ Da). The mRNA expression levels of XRCC1, hOGG1 and XPC negatively correlated with styrene concentrations in blood and at workplace (p<0.001) and positively with SSBs (p<0.001). Micronuclei were not affected by styrene exposure, but were higher in older persons and in women (p<0.001). In this study, we did not confirm previous findings on an increased DNA repair response to styrene-induced genotoxicity. However, negative correlations of SSBs and mRNA expression levels of XRCC1, hOGG1 and XPC with styrene exposure warrant further highly-targeted study.