Comparative evaluation of genotoxicity by micronucleus assay in the buccal mucosa over comet assay in peripheral blood in oral precancer and cancer patients.

PMID 25053835


Early detection and quantification of DNA damage in oral premalignancy or malignancy may help in management of the disease and improve survival rates. The comet assay has been successfully utilised to detect DNA damage in oral premalignant or malignancy. However, due to the invasive nature of collecting blood, it may be painful for many unwilling patients. This study compares the micronucleus (MN) assay in oral buccal mucosa cells with the comet assay in peripheral blood cells in a subset of oral habit-induced precancer and cancer patients. For this, MN assay of exfoliated epithelial cells was compared with comet assay of peripheral blood leucocytes among 260 participants, including those with oral lichen planus (OLP; n = 52), leukoplakia (LPK; n = 51), oral submucous fibrosis (OSF; n = 51), oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC; n = 54) and normal volunteers (n = 52). Among the precancer groups, LPK patients showed significantly higher levels of DNA damage as reflected by both comet tail length (P < 0.0001) and micronuclei (MNi) frequency (P = 0.0009). The DNA damage pattern in precancer and cancer patients was OLP < OSF < LPK < OSCC, and with respective oral habits, it was multiple habits > cigarette + khaini > cigarette smokers > areca + khaini > areca. There was no significant difference in the comet length and MNi frequency between males and females who had oral chewing habits. An overall significant correlation was observed between MNi frequency and comet tail length with r = 0.844 and P < 0.0001. Thus, the extent of DNA damage evaluation by the comet assay in peripheral blood cells is perfectly reflected by the MN assay on oral exfoliated epithelial cells, and MNi frequency can be used with the same effectiveness and greater efficiency in early detection of oral premalignant conditions.