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J Histochem Cytochem. 1989 Sep;37(9):1449-54.

Cell kinetics of human tumors by in vitro bromodeoxyuridine labeling.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, St. Luke's Hospital, Chesterfield, Missouri 63017.


We labeled active S-phase cells in primary breast carcinomas with a modified 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU) procedure using a silver-enhanced colloidal gold visualization step. Separate samples of 29 tumors were labeled with BrdU or tritiated thymidine ([3H]-dThd), and the labeling indices (LI) from the two methods were equivalent (Spearman's correlation coefficient = 0.96). Three breast carcinomas were incubated in various mixes of both BrdU and [3H]-dThd and developed sequentially for each. Paired photomicrographs showed that the same nuclei were labeled by either precursor. The in vitro method yielded LIs similar to those reported after in vivo pulse BrdU labeling for tumors of the central nervous system. The BrdU LI correlated significantly (r = 0.76, p less than 0.001) with % S-phase by DNA flow cytometry in 33 breast carcinomas. The BrdU labeling method is simpler and more rapid than the [3H]-dThd procedure (1-2 days for completion for the former, 7-10 days for the latter), and it provides an equivalent measurement of proliferative index.

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