Integration of sperm DNA damage assessment into OECD test guidelines for genotoxicity testing using the MutaMouse model

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The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) endorses test guidelines (TG) for identifying chemicals that are genotoxic, such as the transgenic rodent gene mutation assay (TG 488). Current OECD TG do not include assays for sperm DNA damage resulting in a critical testing gap. We evaluated the performance of the Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay (SCSA) and the Terminal Deoxynucleotidyl Transferase-Mediated Deoxyuridine Triphosphate Nick end Labeling (TUNEL) assay to detect sperm DNA damage within the recommended TG 488 protocol. MutaMouse males received 0, 0.5, 1, or 2 mg/kg/day triethylenemelamine (TEM), a multifunctional alkylating agent, for 28 days orally and tissues were collected two (blood) and three (sperm and bone marrow) days later. TEM significantly increased the frequency of lacZ mutants in bone marrow, and of micronuclei (MN) in both reticulocytes (%MN-RET) and normochromatic erythrocytes (%MN-NCE) in a dose-dependent manner (P < 0.05). The percentage of DNA fragmentation index (%DFI) and %TUNEL positive cells demonstrated dose-related increases in sperm (P < 0.05), and the two assay results were strongly correlated (R = 0.9298). Within the same animal, a good correlation was observed between %MN-NCE and %DFI (R = 0.7189). Finally, benchmark dose modelling (BMD) showed comparable BMD10 values among the somatic and germ cell assays. Our results suggest that sperm DNA damage assays can be easily integrated into standard OECD designs investigating genotoxicity in somatic tissues to provide key information on whether a chemical is genotoxic in germ cells and impact its risk assessment.HighlightsSubchronic exposure to triethylenemelamine is genotoxic to mouse hematopoietic cells.Triethylenemelamine increases sperm DNA damage as detected by SCSA and TUNEL assay.Benchmark dose modelling showed comparable values among somatic and germ cell assays.Sperm DNA damage assays can be integrated into OECD test guidelines for genotoxicity.

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