An ECVAG inter-laboratory validation study of the comet assay: inter-laboratory and intra-laboratory variations of DNA strand breaks and FPG-sensitive sites in human mononuclear cells.
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Godschalk, Roger W. L.
van Schooten, Frederik-Jan
Jones, George D. D.
Higgins, Jennifer A.
Cooke, Marcus S.
Phillips, David H.
Routledge, Michael N.
Teixeira, João Paulo
López de Cerain, Adela
Collins, Andrew R.
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractThe alkaline comet assay is an established, sensitive method extensively used in biomonitoring studies. This method can be modified to measure a range of different types of DNA damage. However, considerable differences in the protocols used by different research groups affect the inter-laboratory comparisons of results. The aim of this study was to assess the inter-laboratory, intra-laboratory, sample and residual (unexplained) variations in DNA strand breaks and formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase (FPG)-sensitive sites measured by the comet assay by using a balanced Latin square design. Fourteen participating laboratories used their own comet assay protocols to measure the level of DNA strand breaks and FPG-sensitive sites in coded samples containing peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and the level of DNA strand breaks in coded calibration curve samples (cells exposed to different doses of ionising radiation) on three different days of analysis. Eleven laboratories found dose-response relationships in the coded calibration curve samples on two or three days of analysis, whereas three laboratories had technical problems in their assay. In the coded calibration curve samples, the dose of ionising radiation, inter-laboratory variation, intra-laboratory variation and residual variation contributed to 60.9, 19.4, 0.1 and 19.5%, respectively, of the total variation. In the coded PBMC samples, the inter-laboratory variation explained the largest fraction of the overall variation of DNA strand breaks (79.2%) and the residual variation (19.9%) was much larger than the intra-laboratory (0.3%) and inter-subject (0.5%) variation. The same partitioning of the overall variation of FPG-sensitive sites in the PBMC samples indicated that the inter-laboratory variation was the strongest contributor (56.7%), whereas the residual (42.9%), intra-laboratory (0.2%) and inter-subject (0.3%) variations again contributed less to the overall variation. The results suggest that the variation in DNA damage, measured by comet assay, in PBMC from healthy subjects is assay variation rather than variation between subjects.
CitationMutagenesis 2013, 28 (3):279-286
SponsorsThis work was supported by Environmental Cancer Risk, Nutrition and Individual Susceptibility (ECNIS), a network of excellence operating within the European Union 6th Framework Program, Priority 5: ‘Food Quality and Safety’ (Contract No 513943), the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (FORMAS) and the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet). ECVAG (the European Comet assay Validation Group) was created within the ECNIS (Environmental Cancer Risk, Nutrition and Individual Susceptibility) network of excellence, in order to validate the comet assay.
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Inter-laboratory variation in DNA damage using a standard comet assay protocol.Forchhammer, Lykke; Ersson, Clara; Loft, Steffen; Moller, Lennart; Godschalk, Roger W. L.; van Schooten, Frederik J.; Jones, George D. D.; Higgins, Jennifer A.; Cooke, Marcus; Mistry, Vilas; et al. (2012-07-27)There are substantial inter-laboratory variations in the levels of DNA damage measured by the comet assay. The aim of this study was to investigate whether adherence to a standard comet assay protocol would reduce inter-laboratory variation in reported values of DNA damage. Fourteen laboratories determined the baseline level of DNA strand breaks (SBs)/alkaline labile sites and formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase (FPG)-sensitive sites in coded samples of mononuclear blood cells (MNBCs) from healthy volunteers. There were technical problems in seven laboratories in adopting the standard protocol, which were not related to the level of experience. Therefore, the inter-laboratory variation in DNA damage was only analysed using the results from laboratories that had obtained complete data with the standard comet assay protocol. This analysis showed that the differences between reported levels of DNA SBs/alkaline labile sites in MNBCs were not reduced by applying the standard assay protocol as compared with the laboratory's own protocol. There was large inter-laboratory variation in FPG-sensitive sites by the laboratory-specific protocol and the variation was reduced when the samples were analysed by the standard protocol. The SBs and FPG-sensitive sites were measured in the same experiment, indicating that the large spread in the latter lesions was the main reason for the reduced inter-laboratory variation. However, it remains worrying that half of the participating laboratories obtained poor results using the standard procedure. This study indicates that future comet assay validation trials should take steps to evaluate the implementation of standard procedures in participating laboratories.
International Validation of the Comet Assay and a Human Intervention Study.Ersson, Clara (Karolinska Institutet, 2011, 2011)The comet assay is an established, sensitive method extensively used in biomonitoring studies. The methods' advantages include; a) only a small cell sample is required, b) possibility to measure damage in practically any cell type, c) ability to measure heterogeneity in response within a cell population, d) relatively fast and economical procedure, and e) various applications of the method, which allow measurement of a range of different DNA lesions as well as DNA repair. Several guidelines for the comet assay have been published, but no standardised protocol exists as yet. There are considerable differences between the protocols used by different research groups, which negatively affect inter-laboratory comparisons of results. Several experts in the field have highlighted the need for multi-laboratory, international validation studies, to assess intra- and inter-laboratory reproducibility and to investigate sources of variability in the results. The papers in this thesis can be divided into two parts; one part that deals with international inter-laboratory validation studies and methodological aspects of the comet assay (paper I-III), and the other part covers a human intervention study with antioxidant capsules consisting of many different antioxidants in low doses for which the comet assay has been applied (paper IV-V). The inter-laboratory validation trials in papers I-II indicate that the participants can detect dose-responses of both DNA breaks and oxidatively damaged DNA in coded cells, but that there is a large inter-laboratory variation in the reported values. This variation can in part be explained by differences in comet assay protocols and in image analysis. The inter-laboratory variation was decreased, but not completely removed, by calibration with ionising radiation. In paper III we verified that several protocol steps significantly affected the outcome of the comet assay, including a) density of the agarose gel, b) extent of enzymatic incubation, c) duration of alkaline treatment, and d) time of electrophoresis, as well as the strength of the electric field applied. In a parallel placebo-controlled, double-blind intervention study, overweight middle-aged men were supplemented for six weeks with a multivitamin supplement consisting of a range of antioxidants in doses resembling those achieved by a healthy diet (paper IV-V). In spite of elevated levels of seven out of eight measured antioxidants in the blood, the intervention did not affect the level of oxidation of lipids or DNA. Many intervention studies with good design report similar null findings. It is preferred to consume antioxidants through a healthy diet, and dietary supplements are not recommended for cancer prevention.
Assessment and reduction of comet assay variation in relation to DNA damage: studies from the European Comet Assay Validation Group.Moller, Peter; Moller, Lennart; Godschalk, Roger W. L.; Jones, George D. D. (2010-03)The alkaline single cell gel electrophoresis (comet) assay has become a widely used method for the detection of DNA damage and repair in cells and tissues. Still, it has been difficult to compare results from different investigators because of differences in assay conditions and because the data are reported in different units. The European Comet Assay Validation Group (ECVAG) was established for the purpose of validation of the comet assay with respect to measures of DNA damage formation and its repair. The results from this inter-laboratory validation trail showed a large variation in measured level of DNA damage and formamidopyrimidine DNA glycosylase-sensitive sites but the laboratories could detect concentration-dependent relationships in coded samples. Standardization of the results with reference standards decreased the inter-laboratory variation. The ECVAG trail indicates substantial reliability for the measurement of DNA damage by the comet assay but there is still a need for further validation to reduce both assay and inter-laboratory variation.