Collaborative study on fifteen compounds in the rat-liver Comet assay integrated into 2- and 4-week repeat-dose studies.Mutat Res. 2010 Sep 30; 702(1):40-69.MR
A collaborative trial was conducted to evaluate the possibility of integrating the rat-liver Comet assay into repeat-dose toxicity studies. Fourteen laboratories from Europe, Japan and the USA tested fifteen chemicals. Two chemicals had been previously shown to induce micronuclei in an acute protocol, but were found negative in a 4-week Micronucleus (MN) Assay (benzo[a]pyrene and 1,2-dimethylhydrazine; Hamada et al., 2001); four genotoxic rat-liver carcinogens that were negative in the MN assay in bone marrow or blood (2,6-dinitrotoluene, dimethylnitrosamine, 1,2-dibromomethane, and 2-amino-3-methylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoline); three compounds used in the ongoing JaCVAM (Japanese Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods) validation study of the acute liver Comet assay (2,4-diaminotoluene, 2,6-diaminotoluene and acrylamide); three pharmaceutical-like compounds (chlordiazepoxide, pyrimethamine and gemifloxacin), and three non-genotoxic rodent liver carcinogens (methapyrilene, clofibrate and phenobarbital). Male rats received oral administrations of the test compounds, daily for two or four weeks. The top dose was meant to be the highest dose producing clinical signs or histopathological effects without causing mortality, i.e. the 28-day maximum tolerated dose. The liver Comet assay was performed according to published recommendations and following the protocol for the ongoing JaCVAM validation trial. Laboratories provided liver Comet assay data obtained at the end of the long-term (2- or 4-week) studies together with an evaluation of liver histology. Most of the test compounds were also investigated in the liver Comet assay after short-term (1-3 daily) administration to compare the sensitivity of the two study designs. MN analyses were conducted in bone marrow or peripheral blood for most of the compounds to determine whether the liver Comet assay could complement the MN assay for the detection of genotoxins after long-term treatment. Most of the liver genotoxins were positive and the three non-genotoxic carcinogens gave negative result in the liver Comet assay after long-term administration. There was a high concordance between short- and long-term Comet assay results. Most compounds when tested up to the maximum tolerated dose were correctly detected in both short- and long-term studies. Discrepant results were obtained with 2,6 diaminotoluene (negative in the short-term, but positive in the long-term study), phenobarbital (positive in the short-term, but negative in the long-term study) and gemifloxacin (positive in the short-term, but negative in the long-term study). The overall results indicate that the liver Comet assay can be integrated within repeat-dose toxicity studies and efficiently complements the MN assay in detecting genotoxins. Practical aspects of integrating genotoxicity endpoints into repeat-dose studies were evaluated, e.g. by investigating the effect of blood sampling, as typically performed during toxicity studies, on the Comet and MN assays. The bleeding protocols used here did not affect the conclusions of the Comet assay or of the MN assays in blood and bone marrow. Although bleeding generally increased reticulocyte frequencies, the sensitivity of the response in the MN assay was not altered. These findings indicate that all animals in a toxicity study (main-study animals as well as toxicokinetic (TK) satellite animals) could be used for evaluating genotoxicity. However, possible logistical issues with scheduling of the necropsies and the need to conduct electrophoresis promptly after tissue sampling suggest that the use of TK animals could be simpler. The data so far do not indicate that liver proliferation or toxicity confound the results of the liver Comet assay. As was also true for other genotoxicity assays, criteria for evaluation of Comet assay results and statistical analyses differed among laboratories. Whereas comprehensive advice on statistical analysis is available in the literature, agreement is needed on applying consistent criteria.