In vitro evaluation of genomic damage induced by glyphosate on human lymphocytes


Glyphosate is an important broad-spectrum herbicide used in agriculture and residential areas for weed and vegetation control, respectively. In our study, we analyzed the in vitro clastogenic and/or aneugenic effects of glyphosate by chromosomal aberrations and micronuclei assays. Human lymphocytes were exposed to five glyphosate concentrations: 0.500, 0.100, 0.050, 0.025, and 0.0125 μg/mL, where 0.500 μg/mL represents the established acceptable daily intake value, and the other concentrations were tested in order to establish the genotoxicity threshold for this compound. We observed that chromosomal aberration (CA) and micronuclei (MNi) frequencies significantly increased at all tested concentrations, with exception of 0.0125 μg/mL. Vice versa, no effect has been observed on the frequencies of nuclear buds and nucleoplasmic bridges, with the only exception of 0.500 μg/mL of glyphosate that was found to increase in a significant manner the frequency of nucleoplasmic bridges. Finally, the cytokinesis-block proliferation index and the mitotic index were not significantly reduced, indicating that glyphosate does not produce effects on the proliferation/mitotic index at the tested concentrations.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2



Aberrant cells


Acceptable daily intake


Acentric fragments


Chromatid breaks


Chromosome breaks


Binucleated cells


Chromosomal aberrations


Cytokinesis-block proliferation index




Dimethyl sulfoxide


European Food Safety Authority


International Agency for Research on Cancer


Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues


Mitotic index




Micronucleated cell




Maximum residue limits


Nuclear buds


Nucleoplasmic bridges




Reference dose


Standard error




US Environmental Protection Agency


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This research was supported by grant from the Italian Ministry of University and Scientific Research (“ex 60%”).

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Correspondence to Alfredo Santovito.

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Santovito, A., Ruberto, S., Gendusa, C. et al. In vitro evaluation of genomic damage induced by glyphosate on human lymphocytes. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 34693–34700 (2018).

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  • Human biomonitoring
  • Herbicides
  • Genotoxicology
  • Chromosomal aberrations
  • Micronuclei
  • Lymphocytes