Improvement of in vivo genotoxicity assessment: combination of acute tests and integration into standard toxicity testing.Mutat Res. 2011 Aug 16; 723(2):108-20.MR
A working group convened at the 2009 5th IWGT to discuss possibilities for improving in vivo genotoxicity assessment by investigating possible links to standard toxicity testing. The working group considered: (1) combination of acute micronucleus (MN) and Comet assays into a single study, (2) integration of MN assays into repeated-dose toxicity (RDT) studies, (3) integration of Comet assays into RDT studies, and (4) requirements for the top dose when integrating genotoxicity measurements into RDT studies. The working group reviewed current requirements for in vivo genotoxicity testing of different chemical product classes and identified opportunities for combination and integration of genotoxicity endpoints for each class. The combination of the acute in vivo MN and Comet assays was considered by the working group to represent a technically feasible and scientifically acceptable alternative to conducting independent assays. Two combination protocols, consisting of either a 3- or a 4-treament protocol, were considered equally acceptable. As the integration of MN assays into RDT studies had already been discussed in detail in previous IWGT meetings, the working group focussed on factors that could affect the results of the integrated MN assay, such as the possible effects of repeated bleeding and the need for early harvests. The working group reached the consensus that repeated bleeding at reasonable volumes is not a critical confounding factor for the MN assay in rats older than 9 weeks of age and that rats bled for toxicokinetic investigations or for other routine toxicological purposes can be used for MN analysis. The working group considered the available data as insufficient to conclude that there is a need for an early sampling point for MN analysis in RDT studies, in addition to the routine determination at terminal sacrifice. Specific scenarios were identified where an additional early sampling can have advantages, e.g., for compounds that exert toxic effects on hematopoiesis, including some aneugens. For the integration of Comet assays into RDT studies, the working group reached the consensus that, based upon the limited amount of data available, integration is scientifically acceptable and that the liver Comet assay can complement the MN assay in blood or bone marrow in detecting in vivo genotoxins. Practical issues need to be considered when conducting an integrated Comet assay study. Freezing of tissue samples for later Comet assay analysis could alleviate logistical problems. However, the working group concluded that freezing of tissue samples can presently not be recommended for routine use, although it was noted that results from some laboratories look promising. Another discussion topic centred around the question as to whether tissue toxicity, which is more likely observed in RDT than in acute toxicity studies, would affect the results of the Comet assay. Based on the available data from in vivo studies, the working group concluded that there are no clear examples where cytotoxicity, by itself, generates increases or decreases in DNA migration. The working group identified the need for a refined guidance on the use and interpretation of cytotoxicity methods used in the Comet assay, as the different methods used generally lead to inconsistent conclusions. Since top doses in RDT studies often are limited by toxicity that occurs only after several doses, the working group discussed whether the sensitivity of integrated genotoxicity studies is reduced under these circumstances. For compounds for which in vitro genotoxicity studies yielded negative results, the working group reached the consensus that integration of in vivo genotoxicity endpoints (typically the MN assay) into RDT studies is generally acceptable. If in vitro genotoxicity results are unavailable or positive, consensus was reached that the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) is acceptable as the top dose in RDT studies in many cases, such as when the RDT study MTD or exposure is close (50% or greater) to an acute study MTD or exposure. Finally, the group agreed that exceptions to this general rule might be acceptable, for example when human exposure is lower than the preclinical exposure by a large margin.