DNA damage in circulating leukocytes measured with the comet assay may predict the risk of death

Stefano Bonassi*, Marcello Ceppi, Peter Møller, Amaya Azqueta, Mirta Milić, Neri Monica, Gunnar Brunborg, Roger Godschalk, Gudrun Koppen, Sabine A.S. Langie, João Paulo Teixeira, Marco Bruzzone, Juliana Da Silva, Danieli Benedetti, Delia Cavallo, Cinzia Lucia Ursini, Lisa Giovannelli, Silvia Moretti, Patrizia Riso, Cristian Del Bo’Patrizia Russo, Malgorzata Dobrzyńska, Irina A. Goroshinskaya, Ekaterina I. Surikova, Marta Staruchova, Magdalena Barančokova, Katarina Volkovova, Alena Kažimirova, Bozena Smolkova, Blanca Laffon, Vanessa Valdiglesias, Susana Pastor, Ricard Marcos, Alba Hernández, Goran Gajski, Biljana Spremo-Potparević, Lada Živković, Elisa Boutet-Robinet, Hervé Perdry, Pierre Lebailly, Carlos L. Perez, Nursen Basaran, Zsuzsanna Nemeth, Anna Safar, Maria Dusinska, Andrew Collins, Diana Anderson, Vanessa Andrade, Cristiana Costa Pereira, Solange Costa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The comet assay or single cell gel electrophoresis, is the most common method used to measure strand breaks and a variety of other DNA lesions in human populations. To estimate the risk of overall mortality, mortality by cause, and cancer incidence associated to DNA damage, a cohort of 2,403 healthy individuals (25,978 person-years) screened in 16 laboratories using the comet assay between 1996 and 2016 was followed-up. Kaplan–Meier analysis indicated a worse overall survival in the medium and high tertile of DNA damage (p < 0.001). The effect of DNA damage on survival was modelled according to Cox proportional hazard regression model. The adjusted hazard ratio (HR) was 1.42 (1.06–1.90) for overall mortality, and 1.94 (1.04–3.59) for diseases of the circulatory system in subjects with the highest tertile of DNA damage. The findings of this study provide epidemiological evidence encouraging the implementation of the comet assay in preventive strategies for non-communicable diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16793
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


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