Clinical and Experimental Medicine

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 87–92

Basal levels of DNA damage detected by micronuclei and comet assays in untreated breast cancer patients and healthy women

  • Raquel A. Santos
  • Ana Cláudia Teixeira
  • Monica B. Mayorano
  • Hélio H. A. Carrara
  • Jurandyr M. Andrade
  • Catarina S. Takahashi
Original Article


Breast cancer is the second most frequent type of cancer worldwide and is the most common malignant disease among women. Risk factors for breast cancer include early menarche, late menopause, hormonal therapies, exposure to environmental pollutants, smoking and alcohol use. However, increased or prolonged exposure to estrogen is the most important risk factor. It has been suggested that accumulation of DNA damage may contribute to breast carcinogenesis. Epidemiological studies suggest that cytogenetic biomarkers such as micronuclei in peripheral blood lymphocytes may predict cancer risk because they indicate genomic instability in target tissues. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the frequencies of micronuclei and the extent of DNA damage detected by comet assay in peripheral blood lymphocytes of untreated breast cancer patients and healthy women. The study was conducted using peripheral blood lymphocytes from 45 women diagnosed for Ductal “in situ” or invasive breast carcinoma and 85 healthy control women. Micronuclei and comet assays were performed to detect spontaneous DNA damage. The results showed that micronuclei frequencies and tail intensity, detected by comet assay, were significantly higher in the breast cancer group than in controls. The levels of DNA damage were similar in smokers and non-smokers, and aging did not influence the frequencies of micronuclei or tail intensity values observed in either group. In conclusion, the present work demonstrates higher levels of DNA damage in untreated breast cancer patients than in healthy women.


Breast cancer Biomarkers Micronuclei Comet assay 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raquel A. Santos
    • 1
  • Ana Cláudia Teixeira
    • 1
  • Monica B. Mayorano
    • 1
  • Hélio H. A. Carrara
    • 2
  • Jurandyr M. Andrade
    • 2
  • Catarina S. Takahashi
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Genetics, Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirão PretoUniversity of São PauloRibeirão PretoBrazil
  2. 2.Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirão PretoUniversity of São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  3. 3.Department of Biology, Faculty of Philosophy, Sciences and Letters of Ribeirão PretoUniversity of São PauloSão PauloBrazil

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