The purpose of the in vitro chromosome aberration test is to identify agents that cause structural chromosome aberrations in cultured mammalian somatic cells. Structural aberrations may be of two types: chromosome or chromatid.
The in vitro chromosome aberration test may employ cultures of established cell lines, cell strains or primary cell cultures. Cell cultures are exposed to the test substance (liquid or solid) both with and without metabolic activation during about 1.5 normal cell cycle lengths. At least three analysable concentrations of the test substance should be used. At each concentration duplicate cultures should normally be used. At predetermined intervals after exposure of cell cultures to the test substance, the cells are treated with a metaphase-arresting substance, harvested, stained. Metaphase cells are analysed microscopically for the presence of chromosome aberrations.