Comet assay in reconstructed 3D human epidermal skin models--investigation of intra- and inter-laboratory reproducibility with coded chemicals

Mutagenesis. 2013 Nov;28(6):709-20. doi: 10.1093/mutage/get051.


Reconstructed 3D human epidermal skin models are being used increasingly for safety testing of chemicals. Based on EpiDerm™ tissues, an assay was developed in which the tissues were topically exposed to test chemicals for 3h followed by cell isolation and assessment of DNA damage using the comet assay. Inter-laboratory reproducibility of the 3D skin comet assay was initially demonstrated using two model genotoxic carcinogens, methyl methane sulfonate (MMS) and 4-nitroquinoline-n-oxide, and the results showed good concordance among three different laboratories and with in vivo data. In Phase 2 of the project, intra- and inter-laboratory reproducibility was investigated with five coded compounds with different genotoxicity liability tested at three different laboratories. For the genotoxic carcinogens MMS and N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea, all laboratories reported a dose-related and statistically significant increase (P < 0.05) in DNA damage in every experiment. For the genotoxic carcinogen, 2,4-diaminotoluene, the overall result from all laboratories showed a smaller, but significant genotoxic response (P < 0.05). For cyclohexanone (CHN) (non-genotoxic in vitro and in vivo, and non-carcinogenic), an increase compared to the solvent control acetone was observed only in one laboratory. However, the response was not dose related and CHN was judged negative overall, as was p-nitrophenol (p-NP) (genotoxic in vitro but not in vivo and non-carcinogenic), which was the only compound showing clear cytotoxic effects. For p-NP, significant DNA damage generally occurred only at doses that were substantially cytotoxic (>30% cell loss), and the overall response was comparable in all laboratories despite some differences in doses tested. The results of the collaborative study for the coded compounds were generally reproducible among the laboratories involved and intra-laboratory reproducibility was also good. These data indicate that the comet assay in EpiDerm™ skin models is a promising model for the safety assessment of compounds with a dermal route of exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 4-Nitroquinoline-1-oxide / toxicity
  • Comet Assay / standards*
  • Cyclohexanones / toxicity
  • DNA Damage
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / standards
  • Epidermis / drug effects*
  • Ethylnitrosourea / toxicity
  • Humans
  • Laboratory Proficiency Testing
  • Methyl Methanesulfonate / toxicity
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutagens / toxicity
  • Nitrophenols / toxicity
  • Phenylenediamines / toxicity
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Tissue Culture Techniques


  • Cyclohexanones
  • Mutagens
  • Nitrophenols
  • Phenylenediamines
  • 4-Nitroquinoline-1-oxide
  • cyclohexanone
  • Methyl Methanesulfonate
  • 2,4-diaminotoluene
  • Ethylnitrosourea
  • 4-nitrophenol