The automated FADU-assay, a potential high-throughput in vitro method for early screening of DNA breakage

ALTEX. 2011;28(4):295-303. doi: 10.14573/altex.2011.4.295.


Genotoxicity tests are essential to identify compounds that have a potential to compromise not only the environment but also human and animal health, including compounds that increase the risk of cancer. At present, no single test is capable of detecting all types of genotoxic effects; therefore a battery of in vitro and, if positive, in vivo tests is necessary to determine the genotoxicity of a substance. However, the respective specificities of current assays have been criticized for their high percentage of false positive results. We recently published an automated version of the "Fluorimetric detection of Alkaline DNA Unwinding" (FADU) assay for measuring DNA strand breaks in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells or in cell lines. Using this new technology we show detection of DNA strand breaks in cells treated with several compounds known to induce DNA strand breaks by various mechanisms. We also tested toxic compounds that were not expected to induce DNA strand breaks; these were negative in the assay as expected. Finally, we included zinc oxide nanoparticles of high production volume to explore further fields of potential FADU applications. The main advantages of this assay are high reproducibility, easy handling, lack of operator bias, high-throughput, speed, and low cost.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Testing Alternatives / methods*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Automation
  • Carcinogens / toxicity*
  • DNA Breaks / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Insecticides / toxicity
  • Jurkat Cells
  • Mutagenicity Tests / methods*
  • Nanoparticles / adverse effects*
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Rotenone / toxicity
  • Time Factors
  • Zinc Oxide / adverse effects*
  • Zinc Oxide / chemistry


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Carcinogens
  • Insecticides
  • Rotenone
  • Zinc Oxide