Cryopreserved versus freshly isolated lymphocytes in human biomonitoring: endogenous and induced DNA damage, antioxidant status and repair capability

S J Duthie, L Pirie, A McE Jenkinson, S Narayanan

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Lymphocytes are routinely used in human biomonitoring to assess the potential toxic and cytoprotective effects of diet on both DNA damage and repair and, by implication, health. Logistically, samples may require to be cryopreserved and stored. How this affects cells used in human biomonitoring is often not considered. In this study we have evaluated the influence of cryopreservation on endogenous and induced DNA strand breakage, altered bases (oxidized purines, oxidized pyrimidines and misincorporated uracil), antioxidant capacity and DNA repair capability in human peripheral blood lymphocytes. Neither isolation nor freezing increased DNA strand breakage above endogenous levels found in freshly isolated human lymphocytes. Oxidized bases (both pyrimidines and purines) and misincorporated uracil, were similar for fresh and frozen lymphocytes. Fresh and frozen lymphocytes responded almost identically to hydrogen peroxide. Quercetin-mediated cytoprotection against hydrogen peroxide-induced strand breakage was maintained in cryopreserved lymphocytes after short-term (24 h) and longer term (2 months) storage compared with freshly isolated and treated cells. Hydrogen peroxide-induced DNA strand breakage was repaired in fresh lymphocytes. Cryopreserved lymphocytes were unable to repair oxidant-induced DNA strand breaks. Frozen human lymphocytes can therefore be successfully used for most aspects of DNA damage biomonitoring, but not for repair.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-214
Number of pages4
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2002


  • Antioxidants
  • Cold Temperature
  • Comet Assay
  • Cryopreservation
  • DNA
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Repair
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Lymphocytes
  • Specimen Handling
  • Time Factors

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