Perceptive Instruments Ltd.

Genotoxicity & Environmental Pollution


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 The Comet assay is playing an increasing role in studies to determine possible links between environmental pollutants and DNA integrity. The assay is an ideal biomarker for such investigations due to its sensitivity and reliability in detecting DNA damage and repair.

Many research groups use our Comet Assay scoring systems as part of their efforts to determine the risks caused by exposure to contaminants in aquatic, terrestrial & aerial environments and here we highlight some recently published findings.

  • Untreated polluted soil sampled from a former coking plant was shown to cause DNA damage in earthworms (Eisenia fetida) by the Comet assay. Treatment of the soil by thermal desorption did not eliminate the genotoxicity but in fact increased it. Cadmium, chromium & nickel remaining in the soil after treatment could explain the continued genotoxic effects. [1].

  • Diuron & azoxystrobin, two pesticides intensively used in viticulture were found under laboratory conditions to cause DNA damage in liver and spermatozoa cells in zebra fish (Danio rerio) by the alkaline Comet assay and in erythrocytes by micronucleus formation. In a chronic exposure scenario, with realistic environmental concentrations, a significant genotoxic effect was demonstrated by both biomarkers. [2].

  • DNA damage was found in blood cells of eastern mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) inhabiting an aluminium polluted freshwater lake using the Comet assay. Using the same biomarker, acute genotoxicity of contaminated water and sediment was confirmed in fish, mouse and human blood cells treated ex vivo. [3].

  • [4] DEHP is a plasticizer widely used to make PVC soft and pliable particularly for medical devices but there is concern that environmental exposure may contribute to the increasing incidence of testicular dysgenesis syndrome in men. By using the Comet assay with a mouse cell line as a model, exposure to DEHP and its metabolite MEHP were shown to induce genotoxicity. Selenium supplementation however could provide protection against DNA damage. [4].

Research scientists rely on Comet Assay IV for reliable, reproducible and accurate measurements. You can find out more about Comet Assay IV at our dedicated comet assay website.

[1] The influence of thermal desorption on genotoxicity of multipolluted soil. (2010) M. Bonnard et al. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 73(5):955-960

[2] Genotoxicity assessment of two vineyard pesticides in zebra fish. (2010) S. Bony et al. Environmental Analytical Chemistry 90(3&6):421-428

[3] Estimation of DNA integrity in blood cells of Eastern Mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) inhabiting an aluminium-polluted water environment: an alkaline comet assay study. (2010) I. Ternjej et al. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 59(2):182-193

[4] Evaluation of cytotoxicity and oxidative DNA damaging effects of di(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate (DEHP) and mono(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate (MEHP) on MA-10 Leydig cells and protection by selenium. (2010) P. Erkekoglu et al. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 248(1): 52-62

To view these papers and many more please visit our Recent Papers page.


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