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Mutat Res. 2000 Nov 20;471(1-2):21-7.

Follow-up study of the genetic damage in lymphocytes of pharmacists and nurses handling antineoplastic drugs evaluated by cytokinesis-block micronuclei analysis and single cell gel electrophoresis assay.

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  • 1Medical Genetics Service, Hospital de ClĂ­nicas de Porto Alegre, Rua Ramiro Barcelos, 2350, 90035-003 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.


A follow-up study was carried out 4 years after an initial evaluation of the micronucleus frequency in 10 healthy individuals who had been occupationally exposed to antineoplastic drugs in a Brazilian hospital. Upon the first evaluation, these 10 exposed individuals were compared with 10 non-exposed individuals matched for age, sex and smoking habits; the results revealed that the frequency of micronucleated lymphocytes in individuals exposed to antineoplastic drugs was significantly higher (P=0.038) than in controls. The frequency of dicentric bridges was also increased, although not significantly (P=0.0545). After the first analysis, the workers handling antineoplastic drugs were advised to modify their work schedule to limit exposure, and the number of workers in the group was increased from 10 to 12 individuals. In the follow-up study, 12 individuals from the same work area were assessed. In addition to micronucleus frequency, alkaline single cell gel electrophoresis was also used to monitor genetic hazard. This exposed group was compared to 12 non-exposed workers from the same hospital, matched for age, sex and smoking habits. In the follow-up study, no statistical difference was found between exposed workers and controls in terms of micronucleus and dicentric bridge frequency with the Mann--Whitney U-test (P=0.129 and 0.373, respectively). However, the mean value of SCGE analysis was significantly higher in the exposed group than in the controls (P=0.0006). Although the micronucleus analysis seems to be less sensitive to assess DNA damage, it detects chromosome aberrations and not just repairable DNA breakage and alkali-labile sites. Combination of the alkaline single cell gel electrophoresis and cytokinesis blocked micronucleus assay appears to be commendable to monitor populations chronically exposed to genotoxic agents.

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