Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 398, Issue 2, pp 613–650

Mechanisms and measurements of nanomaterial-induced oxidative damage to DNA


DOI: 10.1007/s00216-010-3881-7

Cite this article as:
Petersen, E.J. & Nelson, B.C. Anal Bioanal Chem (2010) 398: 613. doi:10.1007/s00216-010-3881-7


Many of the current investigations on the environmental and human health risks of engineered nanomaterials focus on their short-term acute toxicity. However, the long-term chronic effects of nanomaterials on living systems, and in particular, on the genetic components of living systems, also warrant attention. An increasing number of nanomaterial safety studies include an assessment of genotoxicity as part of the overall risk evaluation. The potential of nanomaterials to directly or indirectly promote the formation of reactive oxygen species is one of the primary steps in their genotoxic repertoire. The subsequent modification of genomic DNA by reactive oxygen species could lead to the development of mutagenesis, carcinogenesis, or other age-related diseases if the DNA damage is not repaired. This review focuses on the interactions of nanomaterials with DNA and specifically on the capacity of some nanomaterials to induce oxidative damage to DNA. A critical assessment of the analytical methodology and the potential biochemical mechanisms involved in nanomaterial induction of oxidative damage to DNA is presented, results obtained for the various studies with each nanomaterial are compared, and recommendations for future research are discussed. Researchers should consider, among other experimental recommendations, (1) the application of more chromatography-based and mass-spectrometry-based analytical techniques to the assessment of oxidative damage to DNA to facilitate an enhanced understanding of DNA damage mechanisms and (2) the verification of cellular viability before conducting genotoxicity assays to reduce the impact of fragmented DNA, formed as a consequence of cell death, on DNA damage measurements.


Base lesionsComet assayDNA damageEngineered nanomaterialsGenotoxicityToxicity

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© US Government 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chemical Science and Technology Laboratory, Biochemical Science DivisionNational Institute of Standards and TechnologyGaithersburgUSA