Encyclopedia of Cancer

Living Edition
| Editors: Manfred Schwab

Comet Assay

  • Peter Schmezer
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27841-9_1275-2



The comet assay is a sensitive electrophoresis technique for studying DNA damage and repair of DNA in individual cells. It has become one of the standard methods for testing of genotoxic stress, and it is also frequently utilized in environmental and human biomonitoring, molecular cancer epidemiology, as well as fundamental cancer research.


The assay can be applied to all cell types including human, animal, or plant cells, whether in culture or isolated from organs or tissues. In general, single-cell suspensions are prepared, and cells are subsequently embedded in a thin agarose gel on microscope slides. Consecutive cell lysis with detergent and high salt removes cellular and nuclear membranes and proteins and liberates DNA in the form of a compact, nucleus-like structure which is also called nucleoid. The gel-embedded DNA is then subjected to electrophoresis. DNA...


Comet Assay Nucleotide Excision Repair Mutagen Sensitivity Genotoxic Carcinogen Human White Blood Cell 
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See Also

  1. (2012) Biomarkers. In: Schwab M (ed) Encyclopedia of cancer, 3rd edn. Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg, pp 408–409. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-16483-5_6601Google Scholar
  2. (2012) Genotoxic. In: Schwab M (ed) Encyclopedia of cancer, 3rd edn. Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg, p 1540. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-16483-5_2393Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division Epigenomics and Cancer Risk FactorsGerman Cancer Research Center (DKFZ)HeidelbergGermany