Methodologies for bulky DNA adduct analysis and biomonitoring of environmental and occupational exposures

J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2002 Oct 5;778(1-2):345-55. doi: 10.1016/s0378-4347(01)00543-6.


It is undisputed that DNA adduct formation is one of the key processes in early carcinogenesis. Therefore, analysis of DNA adduct levels may be one of the best tools available to characterize exposure to complex mixtures of genotoxic chemicals as occurring in different environmental and occupational exposure settings. However, from an analytical point of view the detection and quantification of DNA adducts is a challenging enterprise as extremely high sensitivity and selectivity are required. The entire spectrum of chromatographic techniques, including thin-layer chromatography (TLC), gas and liquid chromatography as well as capillary electrophoresis has been used in combination with different detection systems, all with their own specific characteristics. Among the various combinations of techniques, the TLC-(32)P-postlabeling combination appears to meet best with criteria of sensitivity and requirements of minimal amounts of material. Recent developments in the application of capillary electrophoresis in combination with either immunochemical or mass spectrometric detection techniques may offer new and promising approaches, with higher selectivity as compared to TLC-(32)P postlabeling. The applicability of these new techniques in biomonitoring studies aiming at the exposure and risk assessment of low and chronic exposures remains to be determined. In this paper we compare and discuss the advantages and limitations of different techniques used in DNA adduct analysis, with specific emphasis on those adducts formed by the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic aromatic amines.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • DNA Adducts / analysis*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Exposure*


  • DNA Adducts