Factors influencing heterogeneity of radiation-induced DNA-damage measured by the alkaline comet assay

Clemens Seidel, Christine Lautenschläger, Jürgen Dunst, Arndt Christian Müller*

*Corresponding author for this work
9 Citations (Scopus)


Background: To investigate whether different conditions of DNA structure and radiation treatment could modify heterogeneity of response. Additionally to study variance as a potential parameter of heterogeneity for radiosensitivity testing.Methods: Two-hundred leukocytes per sample of healthy donors were split into four groups. I: Intact chromatin structure; II: Nucleoids of histone-depleted DNA; III: Nucleoids of histone-depleted DNA with 90 mM DMSO as antioxidant. Response to single (I-III) and twice (IV) irradiation with 4 Gy and repair kinetics were evaluated using %Tail-DNA. Heterogeneity of DNA damage was determined by calculation of variance of DNA-damage (V) and mean variance (Mvar), mutual comparisons were done by one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA).Results: Heterogeneity of initial DNA-damage (I, 0 min repair) increased without histones (II). Absence of histones was balanced by addition of antioxidants (III). Repair reduced heterogeneity of all samples (with and without irradiation). However double irradiation plus repair led to a higher level of heterogeneity distinguishable from single irradiation and repair in intact cells. Increase of mean DNA damage was associated with a similarly elevated variance of DNA damage (r = +0.88).Conclusions: Heterogeneity of DNA-damage can be modified by histone level, antioxidant concentration, repair and radiation dose and was positively correlated with DNA damage. Experimental conditions might be optimized by reducing scatter of comet assay data by repair and antioxidants, potentially allowing better discrimination of small differences. Amount of heterogeneity measured by variance might be an additional useful parameter to characterize radiosensitivity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number61
JournalRadiation Oncology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20.04.2012


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