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Assessment of DNA damage in peripheral blood of heavy smokers with the comet assay and the micronucleus test


, : Assessment of DNA damage in peripheral blood of heavy smokers with the comet assay and the micronucleus test. Mutation Research 581(1-2): 105-114

The comet assay (single-cell gel electrophoresis, SCG) is being increasingly used in human biomonitoring for the detection of genotoxic exposures. Cigarette smoking is a well-documented source of a variety of potentially mutagenic and carcinogenic compounds. Therefore, smoking should represent a relevant mutagenic exposure and lead to genotoxic effects in exposed cells. However, our previous investigations as well as several other published studies on human biomonitoring failed to show an effect of smoking on DNA migration in the comet assay, while some other studies did indicate such an effect. Although many factors can contribute to the generation of discrepant results in such studies, clear effects should be obtained after high exposure. We therefore performed a comparative study with healthy male heavy smokers (> 20 cigarettes per day) and non-smokers (n = 12 in each group). We measured the baseline comet assay effects in fresh whole blood samples and isolated lymphocytes. In addition, the amount of 'formamidopyrimidine DNA-glycosylase (FPG)-sensitive sites' was determined by a combination of the standard comet assay with the bacterial FPG protein. Furthermore, the influence of a repair inhibitor (aphidicolin, APC) on baseline DNA damage was comparatively analysed. Duplicate slides from each sample were processed and analysed separately. In all experiments, a reference standard (untreated V79 cells) was included to correct for assay variability. Finally, to compare the comet assay results with another genetic endpoint, all blood samples were investigated in parallel by the micronucleus test (MNT). Baseline and gamma radiation-induced micronucleus frequencies were determined. None of these approaches revealed a significant difference between heavy smokers and non-smokers with regard to a genotoxic effect in peripheral blood cells. (c) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

US$19.90

PMID: 15725610

DOI: 10.1016/j.mrgentox.2004.11.015


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