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Br J Cancer. 1990 Aug;62(2):189-94.

A feasibility study of the MTT assay for chemosensitivity testing in ovarian malignancy.

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Department of Gynaecology, Pembury Hospital, Kent, UK.


We assess the feasibility of using the MTT assay as a measure of cell viability in chemosensitivity testing in ovarian malignancy. The assay utilises the conversion of the tetrazolium salt MTT to formazan by dehydrogenase enzymes in living cells. We show that the optical density of the formazan produced from MTT is directly proportional to the number of live cells tested. Optimum MTT conversion occurred after 4 h incubation and dimethyl sulphoxide was found to be the most suitable solvent for the formazan. Seventy-five samples of ascitic fluid and/or solid tumour were collected from 56 patients with FIGO stage III-IV ovarian adenocarcinoma. Malignant cell suspensions with a viability greater than 75% were prepared from 95% of ascitic fluid and 75% of biopsy samples by simple techniques. The effect of cytotoxic drugs was assessed in 91% of patients included in the study. Variation in drug effect between patients was evident following a 48 h incubation period and was reproducible. Overall platinum and anthraquinone analogues produced the greater effect but resistance did occur. Our results mirrored reported clinical response rates. Only one sample tested against chlorambucil showed any drug effect. As this assay produces results in a high percentage of tests and is rapid and simple it appears suitable for prospective clinical trials to correlate the in vitro results with in vivo response.

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