“Micronuclei and Disease” special issue: Aims, scope, and synthesis of outcomes

Michael Fenech, Siegfried Knasmueller, Lisbeth E. Knudsen, Micheline Kirsch-Volders, Permal Deo, Bernhard Franzke, Helga Stopper, Maria-Grazia Andreassi, Claudia Bolognesi, Varinderpal S. Dhillon, Blanca Laffon, Karl-Heinz Wagner, Stefano Bonassi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of the “Micronuclei and Disease” special issue (SI) is to: (i) Determine the level of evidence for association of micronuclei (MN), a biomarker of numerical and structural chromosomal aberrations, with risk of specific diseases in humans; (ii) Define plausible mechanisms that explain association of MN with each disease; (iii) Identify knowledge gaps and research needed to translate MN assays into clinical practice. The “MN and Disease” SI includes 14 papers. The first is a review of mechanisms of MN formation and their consequences in humans. 11 papers are systematic reviews and/or meta-analyses of the association of MN with reproduction, child health, inflammation, auto-immune disease, glycation, metabolic diseases, chronic kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, eleven common cancers, ageing and frailty. The penultimate paper focuses on effect of interventions on MN frequency in the elderly. A road map for translation of MN data into clinical practice is the topic of the final paper. The majority of reviewed studies were case-control studies in which the ratio of mean MN frequency in disease cases relative to controls, i.e. the mean ratio (MR), was calculated. The mean of these MR values, estimated by meta-analyses, for lymphocyte and buccal cell MN in non-cancer diseases were 2.3 and 3.6 respectively, and for cancers they were 1.7 and 2.6 respectively. The highest MR values were observed in studies of cancer cases in which MN were measured in the same tissue as the tumour (MR = 4.9–10.8). This special issue is an important milestone in the evidence supporting MN as a reliable genomic biomarker of developmental and degenerative disease risk. These advances, together with results from prospective cohort studies, are helping to identify diseases in which MN assays can be practically employed in the clinical setting to better identify high risk patients and to prioritise them for preventive therapy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number108384
Number of pages8
JournalMutation Research - Reviews in Mutation Research
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2021


  • Micronuclei
  • Disease
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Inflammation
  • Ageing


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