Genotoxicity biomonitoring in regions exposed to vehicle emissions using the comet assay and the micronucleus test in native rodent Ctenomys minutus.Environ Mol Mutagen. 2002; 40(4):227-35.EM
Exposure to motor vehicle emissions represents an important concern for possible long-term health effects. The present report describes: 1) the application and verification of the alkaline comet assay in Ctenomys minutus to detect the possible genotoxicity of automobile emissions; 2) a comparison of the comet assay results with peripheral blood micronucleus (MN) assay results performed in the same animals; and 3) the identification of agents involved in the responses and in the seasonal variation of the effects. Ctenomys minutus (Octodontidae-Rodentia) were captured in two different fields from both sides of RS/030, a highway on the coastal plain of the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. Reference animals were obtained from a nearby field that was about 3 km distant from any road. By the end of this study, 123 rodents (73 females and 50 males) were live-trapped. Our results indicate that there was an increase in cells with DNA damage for C. minutus environmentally exposed to automobile emissions, as demonstrated by the alkaline comet assay, but there was no increase in micronucleated cells. The alkaline comet assay showed age and gender differences in the response. The comet assay results suggest that adult females are the principal population affected by air pollutants from vehicle emissions. Chemical data were also collected from areas exposed to automobile exhaust and these indicated that elevated levels of hydrocarbons, metals, and NO(2) were associated with the elevated levels of damaged cells observed in the wild rodent C. minutus. Our results agree with previous data on engine and fuel components, where weak increases in damage for native rodents exposed to emissions have been observed. Other larger, controlled studies are needed to better understand how the metabolism of C. minutus affects its response to emission exposure.