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Radiother Oncol. 1998 Feb;46(2):157-67.

Relationship between potential doubling time (Tpot), labeling index and duration of DNA synthesis in 60 esophageal and 35 breast tumors: Is it worthwhile to measure Tpot?

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Department of Radiotherapy, UZ Gasthuisberg, Leuven, The Netherlands.



In recent years Tpot (potential doubling time) has been measured before treatment in human tumors in an attempt to estimate the proliferation taking place during a course of irradiation. Tpot is defined as Ts/LI, where Ts is the duration of DNA synthesis and LI is the labeling index (proportion of cells synthesizing DNA). Ts is more difficult to measure than LI, so the question arises whether variation introduced during the determination of Ts is compensated by the theoretically better relevance of the quotient Tpot than of LI alone. It is not clear from comparisons with clinical outcome whether Tpot is a useful indicator of proliferation or whether LI is more prognostic, as suggested by a currently ongoing multicenter analysis elsewhere. Therefore, we investigated intercomparisons between Tpot and its components LI and Ts in two in their proliferation rates contrasting types of tumor where multiple biopsies were taken from each tumor.


Sixty patients with esophageal carcinoma and 57 patients with breast cancer were included in this study. All patients were injected with IUdR 6-8 h before surgery. From each tumor three to five biopsies were taken at surgery. Using flow cytometry, LI and Ts were measured on all biopsies in order to calculate Tpot. Logarithmic transformations of the distributions were used to examine correlations. Kappa-tests were used to assess how reliable an LI value could be in predicting the corresponding Tpot.


Ts and LI were not completely independent, based on the within-tumor coefficients of variation (CVw). The ratio of between-tumor coefficient of variation (CVb) to the CVw suggested that the discriminative power of Tpot was higher than LI for esophagus, but the reverse in breast tumors, which had a larger range. Pearson correlation coefficients were high for log Tpot versus log LI in both types of tumor, but the predictive power was low, as shown by kappa-values of only 0.3-0.41 starting with LI and trying to predict the corresponding value of Tpot. Increasing widths of a central 'gray zone' were investigated for improved discrimination between fast and slow proliferation. Multiples of the within-tumor standard deviation, equally on each side of the median, were used to vary the width of the gray zone. Without a gray zone no more than 70% successful matching was obtained in esophagus tumors, compared with 80% in breast tumors. However, by excluding about half of the esophageal tumors an 80% success rate was achieved. In breast tumors over 90% matching was obtained more easily, keeping 80% of the tumors classifiable. For both tumor types correlations between Ts and Tpot were weak, with a trend towards short Ts associated with short Tpot and also with low LI. The latter correlation was significant for esophageal tumors and resulted in Tpot values having a smaller range than the LIs.


Although there were good correlation coefficients between Tpot and LI, the predictive power of either from the other was not reliable, except by excluding a significant number of tumors close to the medians. The predictive value of LI for Tpot was higher for breast tumors because the spread in cell kinetic measurements was wide. Until more clinical data become available on outcome in comparison with LI or Tpot, it is still worthwhile to measure Tpot and to assess the prognostic value of both LI and Tpot in relation to outcome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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