Standardisation of the in vitro comet assay: influence of lysis time and lysis solution composition on the detection of DNA damage induced by X-rays
The alkaline comet assay, in vivo and in vitro, is currently used in several areas of research and in regulatory genotoxicity testing. Several efforts have been made in order to decrease the inter-experimental and inter-laboratory variability and increase the reliability of the assay. In this regard, lysis conditions are considered as one of the critical variables and need to be further studied. Here, we tested different times of lysis (from no lysis to 1 week) and two different lysis solutions in human lymphoblast (TK6) cells unexposed or exposed to X-rays. Similar % tail DNA values were obtained independently of the time of lysis employed for every X-ray dose tested and both lysis solutions. These results, taken together with our previous ones with methyl methanesulfonate and H2O2, which showed clear lysis-time dependence, support that the influence of the lysis time in the comet assay results depends on the type of lesion being detected; some DNA lesions may spontaneously give rise to apurinic or apyrimidinic (AP) sites during the lysis period, which can be converted into strand breaks detectable with the comet assay. Testing different times of lysis would be useful to increase the sensitivity of the comet assay and to ensure the detection of DNA lesions of an unknown compound, thereby providing some insight into the chemical nature of the lesions induced. However, the same lysis conditions (i.e. lysis time and lysis solution) should be used when comparing results between different experiments or laboratories.