Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The BRCA1 gene product helps to maintain genomic integrity through its participation in the cellular response to DNA damage: specifically, the repair of double-stranded DNA breaks. An impaired cellular response to DNA damage is a plausible mechanism whereby BRCA1 mutation carriers are at increased risk of breast cancer. Hence, an individual's capacity to repair DNA may serve as a useful biomarker of breast cancer risk. The overall aim of the current study was to identify a biomarker of DNA repair capacity that could distinguish between BRCA1 mutation carriers and non-carriers. DNA repair capacity was assessed using three validated assays: the single-cell alkaline gel electrophoresis (comet) assay, the micronucleus test, and the enumeration of gamma-H2AX nuclear foci. DNA repair capacity of peripheral blood lymphocytes from 25 cancer-free female heterozygous BRCA1 mutation carriers and 25 non-carrier controls was assessed at baseline and following cell exposure to gamma-irradiation (2 Gy). We found no significant differences in the mean tail moment, in the number of micronuclei or in the number of gamma-H2AX nuclear foci between the carriers and non-carriers at baseline, and following gamma-irradiation. These data suggest that these assays are not likely to be useful in the identification of women at a high risk for breast cancer.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Cancer

Publication Date





118 - 125


Adult, Biomarkers, Tumor, Breast Neoplasms, Comet Assay, DNA, DNA Repair, Female, Gamma Rays, Genes, BRCA1, Histones, Humans, Immunohistochemistry, Lymphocytes, Micronucleus Tests, Middle Aged, Mutation, Predictive Value of Tests, Reference Values, Risk Factors, Sensitivity and Specificity, Software, Staining and Labeling, Statistics as Topic, Surveys and Questionnaires