In vitro mammalian cell micronucleus test

Commonly used acronym: micronucleus, MN,MNT

Scope of the method

Alternative method relates to
  • Human health
Alternative method is situated in
  • Basic Research
Type of alternative method
  • In vitro - Ex vivo
This method makes use of
  • Animal derived cells / tissues / organs
Species from which cells/tissues/organs are derived
Type of cells/tissues/organs
CHO-K1 cells


Method keywords
  • DNA damage
  • micronuclei
  • in-vitro
  • CHO-K1
  • cells
  • OECD
  • carcinogenic
  • chromosomal aberration
Scientific area keywords
  • toxicological
  • genotoxic
Method description

The in vitro micronucleus test is a genotoxicity test for the detection of micronuclei in the cytoplasm of interphase cells. Micronuclei may originate from acentric chromosome fragments (i.e. lacking a centromere), or whole chromosomes that are unable to migrate to the poles during the anaphase stage of cell division. Therefore the micronucleus test is an in vitro method that provides a comprehensive basis for investigating chromosome damaging potential in vitro because both aneugens and clastogens can be detected in cells that have undergone cell division during or after exposure to the test chemical. The test is therefore used to quantify the DNA damaging capabillity of an agens.

Lab equipment
  • Fluorescence microscope
  • Analysis software (e.g. metafer4)
Method status
  • Published in peer reviewed journal
  • Validated by an external party (e.g. OECD, EURL ECVAM,…)

Pros, cons & Future potential


Simple and easy to identify endpoint

  • Types of chromosomal aberration cannot be classified
  • Possible pseudo-micronuclei Interpretation while analyzing the results (scoring of micronuclei)

Use of other cell types

References, associated documents and other information


Identification and risk assessment of human and veterinary antibiotics in the wastewater treatment plants and the adjacent sea in Tunisia Leyla Tahrani Joris Van Loco Roel Anthonissen Luc Verschaeve Hedi Ben Mansour Tim Reyns Water Sci Technol (2017) 76 (11): 3000-3021

Associated documents
OECD in vitro mammalian cell micronucleus test.pdf
OECD Test guideline

Contact person

Jolien Van De Maele


Chemical and physical health risks
Risk and health impact assessment