Micronucleus Assay: The State of Art, and Future Directions

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Feb 24;21(4):1534. doi: 10.3390/ijms21041534.


During almost 40 years of use, the micronucleus assay (MN) has become one of the most popular methods to assess genotoxicity of different chemical and physical factors, including ionizing radiation-induced DNA damage. In this minireview, we focus on the position of MN among the other genotoxicity tests, its usefulness in different applications and visibility by international organizations, such as International Atomic Energy Agency, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and International Organization for Standardization. In addition, the mechanism of micronuclei formation is discussed. Finally, foreseen directions of the MN development are pointed, such as automation, buccal cells MN and chromothripsis phenomenon.

Keywords: biological dosimetry; biomonitoring; buccal cells; genotoxicity; genotoxicity tests; lymphocytes; micronucleus assay.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • DNA Damage
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes / drug effects*
  • Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Lymphocytes / radiation effects
  • Micronuclei, Chromosome-Defective / drug effects*
  • Micronuclei, Chromosome-Defective / radiation effects
  • Micronucleus Tests / methods*
  • Micronucleus Tests / trends
  • Mutagenicity Tests / methods*
  • Mutagens / pharmacology*
  • Radiation, Ionizing


  • Mutagens