The mammalian in vivo micronucleus test is used for the detection of damage induced by the test substance to the chromosomes or the mitotic apparatus of erythroblasts, by analysis of erythrocytes as sampled in bone marrow and/or peripheral blood cells of animals, usually rodents (mice or rats).
The purpose of the micronucleus test is to identify substances (liquid or solid) that cause cytogenetic damage which results in the formation of micronuclei containing lagging chromosome fragments or whole chromosomes. An increase in the frequency of micronucleated polychromatic erythrocytes in treated animals is an indication of induced chromosome damage. Animals are exposed to the test substance by an appropriate route (usually by gavage using a stomach tube or a suitable intubation cannula, or by intraperitoneal injection). Bone marrow and/or blood cells are collected, prepared and stained. Preparations are analyzed for the presence of micronuclei. Each treated and control group must include at least 5 analysable animals per sex. Administration of the treatments consists of a single dose of test substance or two daily doses (or more). The limit dose is 2000 mg/kg/body weight/day for treatment up to 14 days, and 1000 mg/kg/body weight/day for treatment longer than 14 days.