The industrial compound and food contaminant acrylamide (AA) is a probable human carcinogen, also known to induce male-mediated reproductive effects in animals. Most data suggest that its metabolite glycidamide (GA) is involved in the observed toxicity. We have investigated in vitro effects of AA/GA in mouse male germ cells (prior to spermatid elongation) and human and mouse peripheral blood lymphocytes, to assess inter-species and cell-type differences in susceptibility, and to explore the nature of the DNA lesion(s) as well as their potential repair. The comet assay was used in combination with the DNA-repair enzymes Fpg and hOGG1 to measure specific DNA lesions. In contrast to AA, GA induced significant levels of DNA lesions (strand breaks and alkali-labile sites) at millimolar concentrations in mouse testicular cells and human peripheral blood lymphocytes (hPBL). Using Fpg, the GA-induced DNA damage was measured at 20-50-fold higher sensitivity, in all cell types investigated. GA-induced DNA damage could not be recognised by hOGG1, suggesting that, based on the known affinities of these repair enzymes, alkylation of guanine is involved, rather than oxidation. Human lymphocytes appeared to be more susceptible to GA-induced lesions than both types of mouse cells. Mouse testicular cells and lymphocytes seemed to respond similarly to GA-induced Fpg-sensitive DNA lesions. The persistence of lesions was explored with cells from mice either proficient or deficient in Ogg1 (mouse 8-oxoguanine DNA glycosylase). Low in vitro repair of GA-induced Fpg-sensitive lesions was observed in primary male germ cells and lymphocytes from both Ogg1(+/+) and Ogg1(-/-) mice. We conclude that there may be differences between mice and humans in AA/GA-induced genotoxicity, and DNA from mouse male germ cells does not appear to be more sensitive to GA than DNA from peripheral blood lymphocytes in vitro. The usefulness of the comet assay in combination with DNA-repair enzymes is demonstrated.
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