A method for assessing the effect of clastogens on mouse skin epidermal cells was devised and applied. Toxic and mutagenic responses in epidermal cells were tested using two known mutagens and carcinogens, urethane (URE) and 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA). Cell generation time, sister-chromatid exchanges (SCE) and chromosomal aberrations (CA) after topical and intraperitoneal (i.p.) treatment were measured in epidermal and bone marrow cells. After topical administration both tissues responded similarly, whereas after i.p. treatment skin cells were less responsive than bone marrow cells. However, the results indicate the validity of this new cytogenetic approach for the assessment of the genotoxicity of compounds applied directly to skin
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