Impact of infections, preneoplasia and cancer on micronucleus formation in urothelial and cervical cells: A systematic review

Mutat Res Rev Mutat Res. 2021 Jan-Jun:787:108361. doi: 10.1016/j.mrrev.2020.108361. Epub 2020 Dec 13.


Approximately 165,000 and 311,000 individuals die annually from urothelial (UC) and cervical (CC) cancer. The therapeutic success of these cancers depends strongly on their early detection and could be improved by use of additional diagnostic tools. We evaluated the current knowledge of the use of micronucleus (MN) assays (which detect structural and numerical chromosomal aberrations) with urine- (UDC) and cervix-derived (CDC) cells for the identification of humans with increased risks and for the diagnosis of UC and CC. Several findings indicate that MN rates in UDC are higher in individuals with inflammation and schistosomiasis that are associated with increased prevalence of UC; furthermore, higher MN rates were also found in CDC in women with HPV, Candidiasis and Trichomonas infections which increase the risks for CC. Only few studies were published on MN rates in UDS in patients with UC, two concern the detection of recurrent bladder tumors. Strong correlations were found in individuals with abnormal CC cells that are scored in Pap tests and histopathological abnormalities. In total, 16 studies were published which concerned these topics. MN rates increased in the order: inflammation < ASC-US/ASC-H < LSIL < HSIL < CC. It is evident that MNi numbers increase with the risk to develop CC and with the degree of malignant transformation. Overall, the evaluation of the literature indicates that MNi are useful additional biomarkers for the prognosis and detection of CC and possibly also for UC. In regard to the diagnosis/surveillance of UC, further investigations are needed to draw firm conclusions, but the currently available data are promising. In general, further standardization of the assays is needed (i.e. definition of optimal cell numbers and of suitable stains as well as elucidation of the usefulness of parameters reflecting cytotoxicity and mitotic activity) before MN trials can be implemented in routine screening.

Keywords: Cancer; Cervical cells; DNA damage; Infections; Micronucleus; Urothelial cell.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • DNA Damage / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Micronucleus Tests / methods*
  • Urothelium / pathology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / genetics*