Use of the tail moment of the lymphocytes to evaluate DNA damage in human biomonitoring studies

Eunil Lee, Eunha Oh, Joohyun Lee, Donggeun Sul, Juneyoung Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)


The Comet assay has gained increasing popularity for use in human biomonitoring or epidemiologic studies; however, one of the shortcomings of the Comet assay is a lack of agreement on a single appropriate Comet parameter that is capable of adequately describing observed DNA damages. Among the tail parameters of Comet features, the most frequently used are the tail moments (both the Olive tail moment and the extent tail moment), the tail DNA, and the tail length. Some studies comparing Comet parameters have been found in cell toxicity research, but there are few comparative studies that use human biomonitoring or epidemiologic data. In this study, we evaluate those four tail parameters in both high and low DNA damaged cells with the use of epidemiologic data. To do this, a new graphical approach, the so-called quantile dispersion graphs (QDGs) are used. In a comparison of an exposed group and a control group, either the tail moment or tail DNA is preferable to the tail length. With respect to providing smaller variability in quantiles for the amount of DNA damage, however, the tail moment is the preferred parameter for both groups. Moreover, the tail moment provides the most stable estimates for DNA damage because it has a larger degree of uniformity in quantile dispersions. To study high degrees of damage from toxic exposure using B cells or G cells, however, the tail DNA showed more significant discrepancies than the other parameters, in terms of both the mean differences and the graphical differences between the two groups. In view of this result, it is suggested that both the tail moment and the tail DNA be presented as tail parameters in human biomonitoring studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-132
Number of pages12
JournalToxicological Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004 Sept


  • Comet assay
  • DNA damage
  • Extent tail moment
  • Lymphocytes
  • Olive tail moment
  • Quantile dispersion graphs
  • Tail DNA
  • Tail length
  • Tail moment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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