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Takao Hoshino, Kazuhiro Nomura, Charles B. Wilson, Kathy D. Knebel, and Joe W. Gray

✓ Flow cytometry (FCM) is a technique that measures the quantity of DNA contained in individual nuclei and records a frequency distribution of the DNA content per nucleus in the sampled cell population. Nuclei from a variety of human brain-tumor types were isolated by means of tissue grinding, purified by centrifugation through 40% sucrose (15 minutes at 4000 rpm), fixed with 10% formalin, stained with acriflavin-Feulgen, and analyzed by FCM. Profiles of DNA distribution in histologically benign tumors, such as meningiomas, pituitary adenomas, neuroblastomas, and low-grade astrocytomas, revealed a large diploid population (2C) with a few nuclei in DNA synthesis, as well as a small premitotic population (G2 cells) that contains a 4C DNA complement. In contrast, malignant gliomas, including glioblastomas, consist of more cells in DNA synthesis; these tumor cells show a highly variable distribution of ploidy consisting not only of diploid, and/or aneuploid, but also of triploid, tetraploid, and possibly octaploid populations. Also, a large variability between different regions of each tumor was always observed. In contrast, metastatic brain tumors, despite the fact that they contain a considerable number of cells undergoing DNA synthesis, demonstrate little variability within each individual tumor. The ability to rapidly characterize the cell populations of human brain tumors with FCM may enhance the effectiveness of their clinical management.

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Brain-tumor therapy

Quantitative analysis using a model system

Mark L. Rosenblum, Kathy D. Knebel, Dolores A. Vasquez, and Charles B. Wilson

✓ A recently developed colony-formation assay has been used to evaluate in vivo 1,3-bis (2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosourea (BCNU) therapy of a transplantable rat brain-tumor model. A comparison of the in vitro colony-forming capacity of treated and untreated tumor cells permits calculation of the fraction of clonogenic tumor cells surviving in vivo therapy. The plateau that we previously observed on the BCNU dose-response curve is not the result of repair of potentially lethal damage, since no change in the 0.1% of surviving clonogenic tumor cells occurs during the first 2 to 4 days after treatment. Although reanalysis of the dose-response curve indicates that sublethal damage exists, its repair is probably minimal. The most likely explanation for the observed limitation of the BCNU effect is the drug's failure to reach all clonogenic cells. A dose of BCNU that kills more than 99.9% of clonogenic tumor cells within 30 minutes of treatment results in only a 60% decrease in tumor weight by Day 14. This disparity is explained by retarded removal of dead cells, and, along with a previously determined 90% cell-kill threshold necessary to appreciate increased animal survival, demonstrates the inherent limitations of measurements of tumor size (including brain scans and clinical patient evaluations) in evaluating the efficacy of brain-tumor therapy. Following an LD10 dose of BCNU the surviving clonogenic tumor cells increase in number after a latency period of 2 to 4 days; during regrowth the cell doubling time is 40 hours. Marked variability in tumor response and regrowth was noted. The determination of information regarding disturbed tumor cell kinetics and tumor heterogeneity is essential for the proper planning of combination chemotherapy and multimodality regimens.