DNA damage in peripheral blood could be used as a biomarker, according to findings in Cancer Research.

UCLA scientists have found that chromosomal damage caused by local intestinal inflammation is not restricted to the intestine but involves tissues of the body distant from the site of inflammation. They observed DNA damage in lymphocytes of the peripheral blood circulating throughout the body and believe that this be can used to identify those with intestinal inflammation before symptoms begin.

The study used mouse models engineered to develop colitis. Results appear in a paper called “Intestinal Mucosal Inflammation Leads to Systemic Genotoxicity in Mice,” published in the June 1 edition of Cancer Research.

The team found single- and double-strand DNA breaks in the blood and chromosome damage in peripheral blood indicating systemic genetic damage.

The chromosome damage could be detected in the blood before the onset of colitis, according to the investigators. Additionally the severity of the disease correlated with higher levels of chromosome damage in the blood.

UCLA researchers have launched a clinical trial to confirm their findings in humans. They are focusing on patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

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