Feulgen DNA cytophotometry of Papanicolaou destained specimens revealed a differential loss in Feulgen reactivity among human buccal and cervical smears, cultured embryonic lung fibroblasts and invasive cervical carcinoma cells. Loss in Feulgen reactivity in Papanicolaou destained fibroblasts and polyploid nuclei of malignant lesions was observed to result in underestimates of relative Feulgen DA and nuclear area values using scanning integrating microdensitometry. Thus, Papanicolaou stained preparations may not be suitable for DNA quantification of high ploidy lesions since the distributional absorption error is unpredictably influenced by such factors as ploidy level, nuclear size, chromatin dispersion and differential aldehyde loss during destaining. Feulgen DNA cytophotometry of Papanicolaou stained preparations can be useful for differentiating benign from malignant lesions if the extent of aneuploidy (as reflected in an abnormal DNA frequency distribution profile) is used as a diagnostic indicator.
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