Limitations of urinary mutagen assays for monitoring occupational exposure to antineoplastic drugs

P. G. Tuffnell, M. T. Gannon, A. Dong, G. DeBoer, C. Erlichman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The sensitivity of the Salmonella reversion test of Ames as a screen for accidental absorption of 17 antineoplastic agents by drug handlers was evaluated. Dilutions of each drug were added to agar inoculated with each of two Salmonella typhimurium strains (TA98 and TA100); control plates contained no test drug. Colonies were counted after incubation at 36°C for 48 hours. The drugs were tested in the presence of a liver preparation to provide metabolic activation of mutagenicity. Urine samples collected from patients after doses of three mutagenic drugs were extracted and tested with the Ames test. For 11 of the 17 drug solutions, no mutagenic activity was seen, but many of these 11 were toxic to the organisms. The most highly mutagenic drugs were doxorubicin and cisplatin, with mechlorethamine, carmustine, dacarbazine, and cyclophosphamide exhibiting less mutagenic activity. Urine from patients treated with doxorubicin or cyclophosphamide showed mutagenicity, but the results suggested that the quantity of these drugs that would have to be absorbed to produce a definite reaction in urine is unlikely to be achieved by drug handlers who use standard precautions. Because of its lack of sensitivity and the potential effects of environmental and dietary factors on the results, this bacterial mutagenicity test should not be used routinely for detection of accidental absorption of antineoplastic drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)344-348
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospital Pharmacy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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