Occupational exposure to antineoplastic agents induces a high level of chromosome damage. Lack of an effect of GST polymorphisms

Antonella Testa, Manuela Giachelia, Selena Palma, Massimo Appolloni, Luca Padua, Giovanna Tranfo, Mariangela Spagnoli, Donatella Tirindelli, Renata Cozzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of our study was to investigate whether occupational exposure to antineoplastic drugs (AND) resulted in genetic damage, possibly indicative of adverse health effects in the long term. We performed a chromosomal aberrations (CA) analysis in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) of a group of 76 trained nurses occupationally exposed to AND. Furthermore, we analysed whether genetic polymorphisms in four metabolic genes of the glutathione S-transferase (GST) family involved in antineoplastic drugs detoxification (GSTM1, GSTT1, GSTP1, GSTA1) had any effect on the yield of chromosomal aberrations in nurses exposed to antineoplastic agents. The exposed group showed a very significant increase of genetic damage (p <0.0001) potentially indicative of an increased risk of cancer. Unexpectedly, besides the elevated level of chromatid-type aberrations usually related to exposure to chemical agents, we found also severe chromosome damages such as chromosome deletions and dicentric chromosomes, usually related to radiation exposure. No significant association was detected between all GSTs genotypes and chromosome damage. In conclusion, our data show how the occupational exposure to AND is associated to a potential cancer risk, suggesting that current prevention methods do not completely eliminate opportunities for exposure and supporting the need to improve the actual safety practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-55
Number of pages10
JournalToxicology and Applied Pharmacology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 15 2007


  • Antineoplastic drugs
  • Chromosome aberrations
  • GSTs polymorphisms
  • Occupational exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Toxicology


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