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Environ Mol Mutagen. 2004;44(5):427-35.

Three-color labeling method for flow cytometric measurement of cytogenetic damage in rodent and human blood.

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Litron Laboratories, Rochester, New York 14620, USA.


Experiments described herein were designed to evaluate the performance characteristics of a flow cytometry-based system that scores the incidence of peripheral blood micronucleated reticulocytes (MN-RETs). These procedures represent the continued refinement of a previously reported anti-CD71-based method (Dertinger et al. [1996]: Mutat Res 371:283-292), with the following modifications: incorporation of a third fluorescent label to exclude platelets from the MN-RET region, and use of a CD71-associated fluorescence thresholding technique to increase data acquisition rates. Mouse, rat, and human blood samples were analyzed using both the previously described two-color procedure (anti-CD71-FITC and propidium iodide) and a newly developed three-color technique (which adds an antiplatelet-PE antibody). The rodent specimens were also evaluated by standard microscopy procedures (acridine orange staining). Mouse blood was collected via heart puncture of vehicle- and 5-fluorouracil-treated CD-1 mice; blood samples from saline-treated Sprague-Dawley rats were collected from the tail vein and via heart puncture. Rodent blood samples were analyzed by both the two- and three-color methods. Human blood specimens, obtained via arm venipuncture from cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy, were analyzed for MN-RETs using the two-color method. Subsequently, blood samples from a single chemotherapy patient were analyzed by both the two- and three-color methods. Finally, the chemotherapy patient blood samples and blood samples from 15 healthy volunteers were evaluated at very high densities in conjunction with a CD71-associated fluorescence thresholding technique. Results of these investigations showed that data from mouse blood analyzed by the two- and three-color procedures correlated well with microscopy data (r values = 0.917 and 0.937 for the two- and three-color methods, respectively); all three methods confirmed the genotoxicity of 5-FU. Data from rat tail vein samples showed improved reproducibility with the three-color technique, but no significant difference between the two techniques was seen with the heart puncture specimens. Human blood analyzed according to the two-color procedure produced unreliable results, as platelets and platelet aggregates impacted the rare MN-RET scoring region. The three-color technique effectively overcame this problem and produced reproducible measurements that fell within expected ranges. For human blood analyses, the high cell density/CD71-thresholding technique provided significant improvements over the low-density technique, as it allowed data acquisition to occur approximately six times faster with no loss of sensitivity.

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