Role of micronucleus test in predicting breast cancer susceptibility: A systematic review and meta-analysis

F. Cardinale, P. Bruzzi, C. Bolognesi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: The cytokinesis-block micronucleus test (MNT), as a marker of chromosomal mutagen sensitivity, was applied in a number of studies enrolling breast cancer (BC) patients and subjects with known or putative genetic predisposition to BC. The large majority of them involve the evaluation of induced micronuclei (MN) frequency in peripheral lymphocytes, after the in vitro challenge with ionising radiations. METHODS: The aim of the present systematic review and meta-analysis is to investigate the role of MN assay in the identification of individuals at increased risk of BC and its potential use as prescreening test in women with a family history (FH) of BC. RESULTS: Twelve studies were included in the meta-analysis, covering a time interval 1998-2007, and including 752 cases and 593 controls. Among the cases, 629 are cancer patients and 123 are cancer-free subjects, including 32 first-degree relatives of the susceptible subjects and 91 BRCA1/2 mutation carriers. Our meta-analysis reveals a significant increase of baseline MN frequency related to cancer status, but the association with FH of BC and specifically with BRCA mutations is not clear. A larger difference in MN frequency between cases and controls was observed after in vitro challenge, but response to radiation exposure doesn't appear to better discriminate cancer-susceptible subjects. CONCLUSION: Our study suggests the presence of some bias affecting many of these studies, reinforcing the suggestion that a more rigorous study design is needed in this area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)780-790
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 14 2012


  • BRCA1/2
  • breast cancer
  • family history
  • micronucleus test
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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