The model quinone compound menadione has been used to study the effects of oxidative stress in mammalian cells, and to investigate the mechanism of action of the quinone nucleus which is present in many anti-cancer drugs. We have used the alkaline single cell gel electrophoresis assay (comet assay) to investigate the effects of low doses of this compound on isolated human lymphocytes. We found that concentrations of menadione as low as 1 microM were sufficient to induce strand breaks in these cells. Pre-incubation with the NAD(P)H quinone oxidoreductase inhibitor dicoumarol, enhanced the production of menadione-induced strand breaks. In contrast, the metal ion chelator 1,10-phenanthroline inhibited formation of strand breaks, although prolonged incubation with 1,10-phenanthroline in combination with menadione resulted in an increase in a population of very severely damaged nuclei. A marked variation in the response of lymphocytes from different donors to menadione, and in different samples from the same donor was also observed.
- Comet assay
- DNA damage