Estimates of DNA strand breakage in bottlenose dolphin ( Tursiops truncatus) leukocytes measured with the Comet and DNA diffusion assays
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The analysis of DNA damage by mean of Comet or single cell gel electrophoresis (SCGE) assay has been commonly used to assess genotoxic impact in aquatic animals being able to detect exposure to low concentrations of contaminants in a wide range of species. The aims of this work were 1) to evaluate the usefulness of the Comet to detect DNA strand breakage in dolphin leukocytes, 2) to use the DNA diffusion assay to determine the amount of DNA strand breakage associated with apoptosis or necrosis, and 3) to determine the proportion of DNA strand breakage that was unrelated to apoptosis and necrosis. Significant intra-individual variation was observed in all of the estimates of DNA damage. DNA strand breakage was overestimated because a considerable amount (~29%) of the DNA damage was derived from apoptosis and necrosis. The remaining DNA damage in dolphin leukocytes was caused by factors unrelated to apoptosis and necrosis. These results indicate that the DNA diffusion assay is a complementary tool that can be used together with the Comet assay to assess DNA damage in bottlenose dolphins.