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The comet assay and the ultra-marathon

Recently, there have been several publications discussing the link between endurance exercise and DNA damage. Here, associates based at Oregon State University and their collaborators used the comet assay, with a system supplied by Perceptive Instruments, as a tool to demonstrate DNA damage. ‘Percentage DNA in tail’ was the parameter used to indicate DNA damage in this published study.

The comet assay was used to determine whether six weeks of supplementation with vitamins C and E could alleviate exercise-induced DNA damage. Twenty-one runners involved in the study were randomly assigned to one of two groups and given either placebos or antioxidants (1000 mg vitamin C and 400 IU natural vitamin E) for six weeks prior to completing a 50 km ultra-marathon.

DNA damage in circulating leukocytes was assessed at selected time points: pre-, mid-, and two hours post-race and daily for six days post-race. The results showed that DNA damage in leukocytes, induced by the extreme exercise of an ultra-marathon, increased transiently at mid-race but returned to baseline by two hours post-race, indicating that the exercise bout induced non-persistent DNA damage.

One day post-race, women taking antioxidant vitamin supplements had 62% less DNA damage than women taking the placebo. In contrast, there were no statistically significant differences between the two treatment groups of men at any time point. Thus, endurance exercise resulted in DNA damage as shown by the comet assay, and antioxidants seemed to enhance recovery in women but not in men.

Comet Assay IV is used by laboratories all over the world for a variety of research applications, including diet intervention studies, such as this. If you would like more information on how Comet Assay IV can work for you, please contact us.

This case study is based on:
Endurance exercise results in DNA damage as detected by the comet assay
Mastaloudis A, Yu TW, O'Donnell RP, Frei B, Dashwood RH, Traber MG.
Free Radic Biol Med. 2004 Apr 15;36(8):966-75.