Author(s): Kumaravel TS, Vilhar B, Faux SP, Jha AN
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Abstract The Comet Assay or single cell gel electrophoresis assay is one of the very widely used assays to microscopically detect DNA damage at the level of a single cell. The determination of damage is carried out either through visual scoring of cells (after classification into different categories on the basis of tail length and shape) or by using different commercially available or public domain software (which automatically recognise the extent of damage). In this assay, the shape, size and amount of DNA within the 'comet' play important roles in the determination of the level of damage. The use of a software in particular also provides a range of different parameters, many of which might not be relevant in determining the extent of DNA damage. As a large number of factors could influence the shape, size, identification and determination of induced damage, which includes the scoring criteria, staining techniques, selection of parameters (whilst using the software packages) and appearance of 'hedgehog' or 'clouds', this article aims (a) to provide an overview of evolution of measurements of DNA damage using the Comet Assay and (b) to summarise and critically analyse the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches currently being adopted whilst using this assay. It is suggested that judicious selection of different parameters, staining methods along with inter-laboratory validation and harmonisation of methodologies will further help in making this assay more robust and widely acceptable for scientific as well as regulatory studies.
This article was published in Cell Biol Toxicol
and referenced in Journal of Biosensors & Bioelectronics