Background: The use of cancer-related biomarkers in newborns has been very limited.
Objective: We investigated the formation of micronuclei (MN) in full-term and preterm newborns and their mothers from the Rhea cohort (Crete), applying for the first time in cord blood a validated semiautomated analysis system, in both mono- and binucleated T lymphocytes.
Methods: We assessed MN frequencies in peripheral blood samples from the mothers and in umbilical cord blood samples. We calculated MN in mononucleated (MNMONO) and binucleated (MNBN) T lymphocytes and the cytokinesis block proliferation index (CBPI) in 251 newborns (224 full term) and 223 mothers, including 182 mother-child pairs. Demographic and lifestyle characteristics were collected.
Results: We observed significantly higher MNBN and CBPI levels in mothers than in newborns. In newborns, MNMONO and MNBN were correlated (r = 0.35, p < 0.001), and we found a moderate correlation between MNMONO in mothers and newborns (r = 0.26, p < 0.001). MNMONO frequencies in newborns were positively associated with the mother's body mass index and inversely associated with gestational age and mother's age, but we found no significant predictors of MNBN or CBPI in newborns.
Conclusions: Although confirmation is needed by a larger study population, the results indicate the importance of taking into account both mono- and binucleated T lymphocytes for biomonitoring of newborns, because the first reflects damage expressed during in vivo cell division and accumulated in utero, and the latter includes additional damage expressed as MN during the in vitro culture step.