Comparative investigation of multiple organs of mice and rats in the comet assay

Kaoru Sekihashi, Ayumu Yamamoto, Yukie Matsumura, Shunji Ueno, Mie Watanabe-Akanuma, Fekadu Kassie, Siegfried Knasmüller, Shuji Tsuda, Yu F. Sasaki

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125 Scopus citations


Mice and/or rats are usually used to detect chemical carcinogenicity and it has been known that there are species differences in carcinogenicity. To know whether there are species difference in genotoxicity, we conducted comparative investigation of multiple organs of mice and rats in the comet assay. Since the sensitivity to xenobiotics is different for different species, we queried species difference in the genotoxic sensitivity at one equitoxic level but not at one equidose. Therefore, groups of four mice or rats were treated once intraperitoneally or orally with a chemical at highest dose without death and distinct toxic manifestation. When the death was not observed at 2000mg/kg of a chemical, 2000mg/kg was used for the comet study. The stomach, colon, liver, kidney, bladder, lung, brain, and bone marrow were sampled 3, 8, and 24h after treatment. Among chemicals tested, benzyl acetate, chlorodibromomethane and p-chloro-o-toluidine are carcinogenic to mice but not rats, and aniline, azobenzene, o-phenylphenol Na, and D-limonene are carcinogenic to rats but not mice. Although the two species differed in genotoxicity target organs and migration values, the judgement of a positive or negative response was the same for all chemicals studied except for 2,4-dimethoxyaniline, 2,5-diaminotoluene, and p,p′-DDT when chemicals with positive responses in at least one organ are judged to be comet assay-positive. 2,4-Dimethoxyaniline and 2,5-diaminotoluene that are Ames test-positive non-carcinogens in both species were positive in one organ (urinary bladder for 2,4-dimethoxyaniline and stomach for 2,5-diaminotoluene) in rats, but negative in all mouse organs. p,p′-DDT, which is an Ames test-negative but in vitro cytogenetic test-positive hepatic carcinogen in mice and rats, was positive in multiple rat organs, but not in any mouse organ. These results suggest that species differences in genotoxicity at one equitoxic level are not consistent with species difference in carcinogenicity and that the use of both species is appropriate to indicate a carcinogenic potential in the comet assay with multiple organs, when chemicals being positive in at least one organ are judged to be comet assay-positive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-75
Number of pages23
JournalMutation Research - Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - May 27 2002


  • Alkaline single cell gel electrophoresis (SCG) assay
  • Comet assay
  • Genotoxicity
  • Mouse
  • Multiple organs
  • Rat
  • Species difference


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