Cytotoxicity and genotoxicity of chitooligosaccharides upon lymphocytes

João C. Fernandes*, Margarida Borges, Henrique Nascimento, Elsa Bronze-da-Rocha, Oscar S. Ramos, Manuela E. Pintado, F. Xavier Malcata, Alice Santos-Silva

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Two COS mixtures and a low molecular weight chitosan (LMWC) were tested for potential cytotoxicity and genotoxicity upon human lymphocytes. Genotoxicity was evaluated in vitro by cytokinesis-blocked micronucleus and alkaline comet assays, while cytotoxicity was assessed by flow cytometry analysis. Our results suggest that COS do not exhibit any genotoxicity upon human lymphocytes, independently of MW or concentration. However, above 0.07. mg/mL COS induced strong cytotoxic effects. According to the concentration used, such cytotoxicity will induce cell death, essentially by necrosis (>0.10. mg/mL) and/or apoptosis (<0.10. mg/mL). The level of necrosis/apoptosis induced by high COS concentrations, suggests a promising use as apoptosis inducers in specific cancer situations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-438
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Biological Macromolecules
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2011


  • Chitooligosaccharides
  • Comet assay
  • Flow cytometry
  • Lymphocytes
  • Micronucleus


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