The impact of air pollution on the levels of micronuclei measured by automated image analysis.
The measurement of micronuclei (MN) in human peripheral blood lymphocytes is frequently used in molecular epidemiology as one of the preferred methods for assessing chromosomal damage resulting from environmental mutagen exposure. In the present study, we evaluated the effect of exposure to carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (c-PAHs), volatile organic compounds (VOC) and smoking on the frequency of MN in a group of 56 city policemen living and working in Prague. The average age of the participants was 34+/-6 years. The study was conducted on the same subjects in February and May 2007. The concentrations of air pollutants were obtained from personal and stationary monitoring. A statistically significant decrease in the levels of pollutants was observed in May when compared with February, with the exception of toluene levels measured by stationary monitoring. The frequency of MN was determined by the automatic image scoring (MetaSystems Metafer 4, version 3.2.1) of DAPI-stained slides. The results of the image analysis indicated a significant difference in the frequency of MN (mean levels 7.32+/-3.42 and 4.67+/-2.92, for February and May, respectively). Our study suggests that automatic image analysis of MN is a highly sensitive method for evaluating the effect of c-PAHs and confirms that there are no differences between smokers and nonsmokers. These results demonstrate the ability of c-PAHs to increase MN frequency, even if the exposure to c-PAHs occurred up to 60 days before the collection of biological material. Our work is the first human biomonitoring study focused on the measurement of MN by automated image analysis for assessing chromosomal damage as a result of environmental mutagen exposure.