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Mutat Res. 2008 Jan 8;649(1-2):101-13. Epub 2007 Aug 11.

Comparison of flow cytometry- and microscopy-based methods for measuring micronucleated reticulocyte frequencies in rodents treated with nongenotoxic and genotoxic chemicals.

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  • 1Environmental Toxicology Program, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA. witt@niehs.nih.gov


The development of automated flow cytometric (FCM) methods for evaluating micronucleus (MN) frequencies in erythrocytes has great potential for improving the sensitivity, reproducibility, and throughput of the traditional in vivo rodent MN assay that uses microscopy-based methods for data collection. Although some validation studies of the FCM evaluation methods have been performed, a comprehensive comparison of these two data collection methods under routine testing conditions with a variety of compounds in multiple species has not been conducted. Therefore, to determine if FCM evaluation of MN frequencies in rodents was an acceptable alternative to traditional manual scoring methods in our laboratory, we conducted a comparative evaluation of MN-reticulocyte (MN-RET) frequencies determined by FCM- and microscopy-based scoring of peripheral blood and bone marrow samples from B6C3F1 mice and Fisher 344 rats. Four known inducers of MN (cyclophosphamide, ethyl methanesulfonate, vincristine sulfate, acrylamide) were assayed in bone marrow and peripheral blood of both mice and rats. In addition, MN-RET frequencies were measured in bone marrow (microscopy) and peripheral blood (FCM) of mice treated with five nongenotoxic chemicals (S-adenosylmethionine chloride, cefuroxime, diphenolic acid, 3-amino-6-methylphenol, pentabromodiphenyl oxide). No significant differences were observed between results obtained by the two methods in either species. These results support the use of FCM for determining MN-RET frequency in rodents after chemical exposure.

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