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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Increased cytogenetic damage detected by FISH analysis on micronuclei in peripheral lymphocytes from alcoholics.

Alcohol abuse greatly increases the risk of various malignancies, including cancer of the liver and digestive tract. Although it is thought that this may be due, at least partially, to the mutagenic properties of ethanol, little is known about the genotoxic effects of ethanol in humans. We investigated the chromosomal damage in lymphocytes from 20 alcoholics and 20 controls using the micronucleus (MN) assay combined with fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) with a pancentromeric DNA probe capable of differentiating centromere positive (C+) from centromere negative (C-) MN. The frequency of MN in binucleate lymphocytes was significantly higher in alcoholics than in controls (12.0 +/- 5.4 and 7.6 +/- 1.6, respectively; P: < 0.05). FISH revealed significantly higher frequencies of C+ MN in alcoholics than in controls (8.2 +/- 4.8 and 3.4 +/- 1.4, respectively; P: < 0.05). In the alcoholics, no association was found between years of alcohol abuse and frequency of MN or C+ MN. However, age influenced MN and C+ MN frequency both in alcoholics and controls. These results indicate that alcohol abuse may well induce chromosome loss in humans, suggesting a possible aneugenic mechanism of alcohol. This effect could contribute to the health hazards related to alcoholism such as cancer risk.[1]


  1. Increased cytogenetic damage detected by FISH analysis on micronuclei in peripheral lymphocytes from alcoholics. Maffei, F., Fimognari, C., Castelli, E., Stefanini, G.F., Forti, G.C., Hrelia, P. Mutagenesis (2000) [Pubmed]
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