Archives of Toxicology

, Volume 90, Issue 10, pp 2315–2336

Comet assay: an essential tool in toxicological research

Review Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00204-016-1767-y

Cite this article as:
Glei, M., Schneider, T. & Schlörmann, W. Arch Toxicol (2016) 90: 2315. doi:10.1007/s00204-016-1767-y


The comet assay is a versatile, reliable, cost-efficient, and fast technique for detecting DNA damage and repair in any tissue. It is useable in almost any cell type and applicable to both eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms. Instead of highlighting one of the numerous specific aspects of the comet assay, the present review aims at giving an overview about the evolution of this widely applicable method from the first description by Ostling and Johanson to the OECD Guideline 489 for the in vivo mammalian comet assay. In addition, methodical aspects and the influence of critical steps of the assay as well as the evaluation of results and improvements of the method are reviewed. Methodical aspects regarding oxidative DNA damage and repair are also addressed. An overview about the most recent works and relevant cutting-edge reviews based on the comet assay with special regard to, e.g., clinical applications, nanoparticles or environmental risk assessment concludes this review. Taken together, the presented overview raises expectations to further decades of successful applications and enhancements of this excellent method.


Comet assay DNA damage DNA repair Genotoxicity Single-cell gel electrophoresis 

Supplementary material

204_2016_1767_MOESM1_ESM.docx (192 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 192 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Nutritional Toxicology, Institute of NutritionFriedrich Schiller University JenaJenaGermany

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