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Proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA): a new marker to study human colonic cell proliferation.
  1. F J Kubben,
  2. A Peeters-Haesevoets,
  3. L G Engels,
  4. C G Baeten,
  5. B Schutte,
  6. J W Arends,
  7. R W Stockbrügger,
  8. G H Blijham
  1. Division of Haemato-Oncology, Academic Hospital, Maastricht, The Netherlands.


    Immunohistochemistry of the S phase related proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) was studied as an alternative to ex-vivo bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) immunohistochemistry for assessment of human colonic cell proliferation. From 16 subjects without colonic disease biopsy specimens were collected from five different sites along the colorectum and processed for BrdU and PCNA immunohistochemistry. The mean proliferation index of PCNA was significantly higher at 133% of the value obtained with BrdU. There was, however, a good correlation between the results from both techniques (r = 0.6275; p < 0.05). Decrease in proliferation index along the colorectum was seen with both staining methods but was clearer with PCNA immunohistochemistry (caecum/ascending colon v rectum: 12.0 v 7.2; p < 0.004). The total number of crypt cells also decreased from proximal to distal (134 to 128; p < 0.06) but at no site correlated significantly with the proliferation index. It is concluded that in clinical cell kinetic studies staining for PCNA may serve as an attractive alternative to the BrdU incorporation assay.

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