Detection of damage on single- or double-stranded DNA in a population exposed to arsenic in drinking water.
Different studies have suggested an association between arsenic (As) exposure and damage to single-stranded DNA by reactive oxygen species derived from the biotransformation of arsenic. The single strand damages are converted to double strand damage upon interaction with ultraviolet radiation. Analysis of genomic integrity is important for assessing the genotoxicity caused by environmental pollutants. In this study, we compared the concentration of As in drinking water, nutritional status, lifestyle variables, and the level of genotoxicity in an exposed population and a control group. Arsenic content of water was determined using a portable Arsenator kit. DNA fragmentation was determined using the two-tailed comet assay. Our results show that the exposed population had low nutritional consumption compared to the control group (P < 0.05). Furthermore, the water consumed by the exposed group had As concentration of 14.3 ± 8.4 mg/L, whereas the As level in the water consumed by the control group was 7.7 ± 3.5 mg/L. Analysis shows that the frequency of double strand break (DSB) fragmentation was higher in the population exposed to higher levels of As compared to that of the control group. These results suggest a possible association between the concentration of As in drinking water and lifestyle variables, with increasing fragmentation of DSBs in the exposed population.