The multi-endpoint cytokinesis-blocked micronucleus assay is used for assessing chromosome aberrations. We have recently reported that this assay is extremely sensitive to genetic damage caused by the tobacco-specific nitrosamine 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK) and that the binucleated cells with micronuclei, nucleoplasmic bridges, and nuclear buds in lymphocytes (chromosome damage endpoints measured by the assay) are strong predictors of lung cancer risk. In the current study, we refined our analysis to include toxicity endpoints (micronuclei in mononucleated cells, apoptosis, necrosis, and nuclear division index) to investigate the benefit of including these variables on improving the predictive value of the assay. Baseline and NNK-induced micronuclei in mononucleated cells were significantly higher in patients (n = 139) than controls (n = 130; P < 0.001). Baseline apoptosis was higher among cases; however, the controls showed a significant higher fold increase in NNK-induced apoptosis compared with baseline (P < 0.001). Principal components analysis was used to derive a summary measure for all endpoints and calculate the positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV) for disease status. First principal component for NNK-induced chromosome damage endpoints (binucleated cells with micronuclei, nucleoplasmic bridges, and nuclear buds) had an area under the curve = 97.9 (95% confidence interval, 95.9-99.0), PPV = 94.8, and NPV = 92.6. The discriminatory power improved when micronuclei in mononucleated cells were included: area under the curve = 99.1 (95% confidence interval, 97.9-100.0), PPV = 98.7 and NPV = 95.6. The simplicity, rapidity, and sensitivity of the assay together with potential for automation make it a valuable tool for screening and prioritizing potential cases for intensive screening.
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