Human genotoxic study carried out two years after oil exposure during the clean-up activities using two different biomarkers

Gloria Biern, Jesús Giraldo, Jan Paul Zock, Gemma Monyarch, Ana Espinosa, Gema Rodríguez-Trigo, Federico Gómez, Francisco Pozo-Rodríguez, Joan Albert Barberà, Carme Fuster

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2 Citations (Scopus)


© 2015 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Micronuclei, comet and chromosome alterations assays are the most widely used biomarkers for determining the genotoxic damage in a population exposed to genotoxic chemicals. While chromosome alterations are an excellent biomarker to detect short- and long-term genotoxic effects, the comet assay only measures early biological effects, and furthermore it is unknown whether nuclear abnormalies, such as those measured in the micronucleus test, remain detectable long-term after an acute exposure. In our previous study, an increase in structural chromosome alterations in fishermen involved in the clean-up of the Prestige oil spill, two years after acute exposure, was detected. The aim of this study is to investigate whether, in lymphocytes from peripheral blood, the nuclear abnormalies (micronucleus, nucleoplasmic bridges and nuclear buds) have a similar sensitivity to the chromosome damage analysis for genotoxic detection two years after oil exposure in the same non-smoker individuals and in the same peripheral blood extraction. No significant differences in nuclear abnormalies frequencies between exposed and non-exposed individuals were found (p > 0.05). However, chromosome damage, in the same individuals, was higher in exposed vs. non-exposed individuals, especially for chromosome lesions (p < 0.05). These findings, despite the small sample size, suggest that nuclear abnormalities are probably less-successful biomarkers than are chromosome alterations to evaluate genotoxic effects two or more years after an exposure to oil. Due to the great advantage of micronucleus automatic determination, which allows for a rapid study of hundreds of individuals exposed to genotoxic chemical exposure, further studies are needed to confirm whether this assay is or is not useful in long-term genotoxic studies after the toxic agent is no longer present.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1334-1348
JournalJournal of Marine Science and Engineering
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015


  • Chromosome alterations
  • Chromosome damage
  • Genotoxicity
  • Micronucleus test
  • Nuclear abnormities
  • Oil exposure
  • Prestige catastrophe


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