The comet assay in animal models: from bugs to whales – (Part 2 Vertebrates)

Goran Gajski, Bojana Žegura, Carina Ladeira, Matjaž Novak, Monika Sramkova, Bertrand Pourrut, Cristian Del Bo, Mirta Milić, Kristine Bjerve Gutzkow, Solange Costa, Maria Dusinska, Gunnar Brunborg, Andrew Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


The comet assay has become one of the methods of choice for the evaluation and measurement of DNA damage. It is sensitive, quick to perform and relatively affordable for the evaluation of DNA damage and repair at the level of individual cells. The comet assay can be applied to virtually any cell type derived from different organs and tissues. Even though the comet assay is predominantly used on human cells, the application of the assay for the evaluation of DNA damage in yeast, plant and animal cells is also quite high, especially in terms of biomonitoring. The present extensive overview on the usage of the comet assay in animal models will cover both terrestrial and water environments. The first part of the review was focused on studies describing the comet assay applied in invertebrates. The second part of the review, (Part 2) will discuss the application of the comet assay in vertebrates covering cyclostomata, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, in addition to chordates that are regarded as a transitional form towards vertebrates. Besides numerous vertebrate species, the assay is also performed on a range of cells, which includes blood, liver, kidney, brain, gill, bone marrow and sperm cells. These cells are readily used for the evaluation of a wide spectrum of genotoxic agents both in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, the use of vertebrate models and their role in environmental biomonitoring will also be discussed as well as the comparison of the use of the comet assay in vertebrate and human models in line with ethical principles. Although the comet assay in vertebrates is most commonly used in laboratory animals such as mice, rats and lately zebrafish, this paper will only briefly review its use regarding laboratory animal models and rather give special emphasis to the increasing usage of the assay in domestic and wildlife animals as well as in various ecotoxicological studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-164
Number of pages35
JournalMutation Research - Reviews in Mutation Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


  • Animal model
  • Biomonitoring
  • Comet assay
  • DNA damage
  • In vitro
  • In vivo
  • Vertebrates


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