, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 121-131

The assessment of cellular proliferation by immunohistochemistry: A review of currently available methods and their applications

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Summary

Immunohistochemical methods using antibodies to cell cycle-related antigens may be used as a means of assessing various aspects of proliferation in tissue, and have the important advantage of preserving the spatial orientation of proliferating cells in histological sections. Currently, the most widely available antibodies for this purpose are antibodies to bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU), Ki67 and antibodies to proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA). BrdU is a thymidine analogue incorporated during the S phase of the cell cycle, which can be introduced by ‘in vivo’ administration or by ‘in vitro’ incubation, and monoclonal antibodies are available to display its localization. Ki67 demonstrates a nuclear antigen expressed in all phases of the cell cycle, except G0 and early G1, but can only be applied to frozen tissue. PCNA is a nuclear antigen which is essential for DNA synthesis, two commercially available antibodies to PCNA work in paraffin-embedded tissue, but may have different staining characteristics under different conditions of fixation. The main advantages and disadvantages of these different techniques are discussed, together with their main applications to date.