The frequencies of caffeine-induced chromosomal aberrations (CA), mainly chromatid (CdB) and chromosome (CB) breaks, were studied in lymphocyte cultures derived from 6 obligatory heterozygotes and 1 homozygote of ataxia telangiectasia (AT), and from 4 control adult healthy persons. Caffeine (CF, 1 mM) was added at the beginning of the cultures exposed to CF the frequency of CB was 1.9% and of CdB 1.3%. In cells of the AT homozygote, the frequency of CdB was 6.8% in the absence and 8.7% in the presence of caffeine, the frequencies of CB being 3.4 and 10.9%, respectively. In AT heterozygous cells treated with CF, CdB increased 13-fold as compared to a less than 3-fold increase in control cells. Comparing the frequencies of CF-induced chromosomal lesions in control and AT heterozygous cells, potentiation factors (Pf) for the effect of 1 AT gene on cell sensitivity of CF (Pf [AT]) were 3.5 for CB, 6.6 for CdB and 5.5 for CA. These data demonstrate that lymphocytes of AT heterozygotes are significantly more sensitive to caffeine treatment in vitro in terms of increased frequency of CdB than normala cells, which may be useful for the diagnosis of carriers of this defective gene. © 1990.
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