Modulation of doxorubicin-induced genotoxicity by squalene in Balb/c mice

Food Funct. 2010 Nov;1(2):174-9. doi: 10.1039/c0fo00102c. Epub 2010 Oct 14.


The present study aims to evaluate the protective effect of squalene against the genotoxicity of the chemotherapeutic agent doxorubicin (Dox) using two genotoxicity assays, the micronucleus assay and the comet assay. Different groups of mice were fed squalene at the doses of 1 and 4 mmol g(-1) body weight (100 or 400 μl as squalene oil) either at 4 h before or 1 h after Dox (20 mg kg(-1)) treatment. 24 h after the Dox treatment, bone marrow erythrocytes were evaluated for the incidence of micronuclei, and the induced DNA strand breaks were examined in heart tissue by the alkaline comet assay. As expected, Dox significantly induced micronuclei in polychromatic (immature) erythrocytes, as well as in total erythrocytes. The frequency of Dox-induced micronucleated erythrocytes was significantly reduced in the mice treated with squalene both before and after Dox administration. Squalene itself obviously did not induce any micronuclei in bone marrow erythrocytes. The comet assay also demonstrated a significant increase in DNA damage, especially DNA single strand breaks in the Dox-treated group of mice as compared to the control. The Dox-induced DNA damage was also effectively reduced by squalene when it was administered either before or after the Dox treatment. Squalene did not induce any significant DNA damage by itself. Compared to the pre-treatment of squalene, post treatment gave rise to more effective prevention against Dox-induced DNA damage. The data suggest that the complimentary use of squalene with Dox will be beneficial to reduce the adverse effect of Dox in cancer chemotherapy, such as the increased incidence of undesirable mutagenic side effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / toxicity*
  • Bone Marrow Cells / drug effects
  • Bone Marrow Cells / physiology
  • Comet Assay
  • Cytoprotection / drug effects
  • DNA Breaks / drug effects
  • Doxorubicin / toxicity*
  • Drug Interactions
  • Erythrocytes / drug effects*
  • Erythrocytes / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Micronuclei, Chromosome-Defective / chemically induced*
  • Mutagens / toxicity
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Squalene / pharmacology*


  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic
  • Mutagens
  • Squalene
  • Doxorubicin