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Mutat Res. 2007 Mar 30;628(1):11-8. Epub 2007 Jan 16.

Micronucleus induction and FISH analysis in buccal cells and lymphocytes of nurses administering antineoplastic drugs.

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Department of Occupational Medicine, ISPESL-National Institute for Occupational Safety and Prevention, Monteporzio Catone, Rome, Italy.


A genotoxic effect for antineoplastic drugs, in particular micronucleus induction, has been shown in several studies. The aim of our study was to assess genotoxic effects in nurses administering different mixtures of antineoplastic drugs in an oncology hospital by evaluating the frequency of micronuclei in exfoliated buccal cells and blood lymphocytes by use of the standard micronucleus (MN) test and by identifying, by means of FISH analysis with centromeric probes, the mechanism of micronucleus induction (clastogenic or aneugenic). The study group comprised 23 nurses, 10 of whom worked in the day-care hospital and 13 in the ward. Twenty healthy subjects were selected as controls. Pan-centromeric FISH analysis was performed on lymphocytes from a selected group of nurses (12/23 subjects) characterized by higher MN frequencies as observed by standard Giemsa staining. A significant increase of micronucleus frequency compared with controls was found in exfoliated buccal cells of both groups of nurses: day-care hospital nurses 0.92 versus 0.45 (p=0.034) and ward nurses 0.94 versus 0.45 (p=0.051). An increase, although not statistically significant, of mean MN frequency was also found by the MN standard test on lymphocytes of the day-care hospital nurses (10.9 versus 7.5; p=0.056), while no differences were found in ward nurses (8.15 versus 7.5; p=0.56). We found that the administration of antineoplastic drugs by nurses in ward units induced a higher frequency of FISH MN+ (43% of subjects) than in the day-care hospital (20%). This was associated with the micronucleus size percentage. This finding could be correlated with the different compositions of administered mixtures of antineoplastic drugs: in ward units the mixtures contained drugs, such as vinorelbine, that were absent in the mixtures administered in the day-care hospital. Our results show genetic damage induced by administration of antineoplastic drugs, particularly in exfoliated buccal cells. This result suggests the useful application of this non-invasive sampling to evaluate genotoxic effects of occupational exposure to mixtures of inhalable chemicals at low doses.

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