Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an important risk factor for gastrointestinal cancers. Inflammation and other carcinogenesis-related effects at distal, tissue-specific sites require further study. In order to better understand if systemic genotoxicity is associated with IBD, we exposed mice to dextran sulfate sodium salt (DSS) and measured the incidence of micronucleated cells (MN) and Pig-a mutant phenotype cells in blood erythrocyte populations. In one study, 8-week-old male CD-1 mice were exposed to 0, 1, 2, 3 or 4% w/v DSS in drinking water. The 4-week in-life period was divided into four 1-week intervals-alternately on then off DSS treatment. Low volume blood samples were collected for MN analysis at the end of each week, and cardiac blood samples were collected at the end of the 4-week period for Pig-a analyses. The two highest doses of DSS were observed to induce significant increases in reticulocyte frequencies. Even so, no statistically significant treatment-related effects on the genotoxicity biomarkers were evident. While one high-dose mouse showed modestly elevated MN frequencies during the DSS treatment cycles, it also exhibited exceptionally high reticulocyte frequencies (e.g. 18.7% at the end of the second DSS cycle). In a second study, mice were treated with 0 or 4% DSS for 9-18 consecutive days. Exposure was continued until rectal bleeding or morbidity was evident, at which point the treatment was terminated and blood was collected for MN analysis. The Pig-a assay was conducted on samples collected 29 days after the start of treatment. The initial blood specimens showed highly elevated reticulocyte frequencies in DSS-exposed mice (mean ± SEM = 1.75 ± 0.10% vs. 13.04 ± 3.66% for 0 vs. 4% mice, respectively). Statistical analyses showed no treatment-related effect on MN or Pig-a mutant frequencies. Even so, the incidence of MN versus reticulocytes in the DSS-exposed mice were positively correlated (linear fit R2 = 0.657, P = 0.0044). Collectively, these results suggest that in the case of the DSS CD-1 mouse model, systemic effects include stress erythropoiesis but not remarkable genotoxicity. To the extent MN may have been slightly elevated in a minority of individual mice, these effects appear to be secondary, likely attributable to stimulated erythropoiesis.
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