A new monoclonal antibody to proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), PC10, which can be used on routinely processed tissue, was applied to 93 cases of gastric carcinoma. Significant intra-tumoural variation in staining occurred. In addition to a PCNA index (percentage of positive cells per 1000 tumour cells), a semiquantitative PCNA grading system was devised, based on estimates of less than or more than 50% of positive tumour cells in whole sections. Neither PCNA index nor PCNA grade showed any correlation with established histological variables, tumour stage, or the presence of lymph node metastases. No significant correlation was observed between PCNA index and S + G2M phase fraction measured by flow cytometric analysis. To analyse survival tumours with PCNA indices above and below the median level (41%) were compared. Those with a higher index tended to have a worse prognosis, but when PCNA grade was considered, it was found to have definite independent prognostic value, tumours of low grade surviving better than those of high grade. The ability of semiquantitative PCNA grading to allow for intra-tumoural variation suggests it may have advantages over absolute counting, which is prone to sampling error when tumour heterogeneity is a major factor. The prognostic value of PC10 staining in gastric carcinoma is therefore promising.
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