Comet Assay in Cancer Chemoprevention

Methods Mol Biol. 2016;1379:99-105. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-3191-0_9.


The comet assay can be useful in monitoring DNA damage in single cells caused by exposure to genotoxic agents, such as those causing air, water, and soil pollution (e.g., pesticides, dioxins, electromagnetic fields) and chemo- and radiotherapy in cancer patients, or in the assessment of genoprotective effects of chemopreventive molecules. Therefore, it has particular importance in the fields of pharmacology and toxicology, and in both environmental and human biomonitoring. It allows the detection of single strand breaks as well as double-strand breaks and can be used in both normal and cancer cells. Here we describe the alkali method for comet assay, which allows to detect both single- and double-strand DNA breaks.

Keywords: Comet assay; DNA damage; DNA repair; Double-strand breaks (DSB); Genotoxic stress; Single-cell gel electrophoresis (SCGE); Single-strand breaks (SSB).

MeSH terms

  • Cell Death
  • Chemoprevention*
  • Comet Assay / methods*
  • DNA Breaks, Double-Stranded
  • DNA Breaks, Single-Stranded
  • Molecular Imaging
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Staining and Labeling