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Int J Mol Sci. 2011;12(5):2783-96. doi: 10.3390/ijms12052783. Epub 2011 Apr 28.

Mechanistic investigation of ROS-induced DNA damage by oestrogenic compounds in lymphocytes and sperm using the comet assay.

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Genetic and Reproductive Toxicology Group, Division of Biomedical Sciences, University of Bradford, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD7 1DP, UK; E-Mail:


Past research has demonstrated that oestrogenic compounds produce strand breaks in the DNA of sperm and lymphocytes via reactive oxygen species (ROS). In the current investigation, sperm and lymphocytes were treated in vitro with oestrogenic compounds (diethylstilboestrol, progesterone, 17β-oestradiol, noradrenaline and triiodotyronine) and several aspects of DNA damage were investigated. Firstly, mediation of DNA damage by lipid peroxidation was investigated in the presence of BHA (a lipid peroxidation blocker). BHA reduced the DNA damage generated by 17β-oestradiol and diethylstilboestrol in a statistically significant manner. No effects were observed for sperm. Secondly, the presence of oxidized bases employing FPG and EndoIII were detected for lymphocytes and sperm in the negative control and after 24 h recovery in lymphocytes but not immediately after treatment for both cell types. The successful detection of oxidized bases in the negative control (untreated) of sperm provides an opportunity for its application in biomonitoring studies. DNA repair at 24 h after exposure was also studied. A nearly complete recovery to negative control levels was shown in lymphocytes 24 h recovery after oestrogenic exposure and this was statistically significant in all cases. Rapid rejoining of DNA, in a matter of hours, is a characteristic of DNA damaged by ROS.


ROS; comet assay; lipid peroxidation; lymphocytes; oestrogens; sperm

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