Doublet discrimination in DNA cell-cycle analysis

Cytometry. 2001 Oct 15;46(5):296-306. doi: 10.1002/cyto.1171.


Differences in doublet analysis have the potential to alter DNA cell-cycle measurements. The techniques for doublet determination are often used interchangeably without regard for the complexity in cell shapes and sizes of biological specimens. G(0/1) doublets were identified and quantitated using fluorescence height versus area and fluorescence width versus area pulse measurements, by enumerating the proportion of G(2) + M cells that lack cyclin B1 immunoreactivity, and modeled in the DNA histograms by software algorithms. These techniques were tested on propidium iodide-stained whole epithelial cells or nuclei from asynchronous cultures, or after exposure to chemotherapeutic agents that induced cell-cycle arrest and were extended to human breast tumor specimens having DNA diploid patterns. G(0/1) doublets were easily discernible from G(2) + M singlets in cells or nuclei that are generally homogenous and spherical in shape. Doublet discrimination based on pulse processing or cyclin B1 measurements was nonconcordant in some nonspherical cell types and in cells following cell cycle arrest. Significant differences in G(0/1) doublet estimates were observed in breast tumor specimens (n = 50), with estimates based on pulse width twice those of pulse height and nearly five times greater than computer estimates. Differences between techniques are attributed to difficulties in the separation of the boundaries between G(0/1) doublets and G(2) + M singlet populations in biologically heterogeneous specimens. To improve reproducibility and enhance standardization among laboratories performing cell cycle analysis in experimental cell systems and in human breast tumors, doublet discrimination analysis should best be accomplished by computer modeling. Shape and size heterogeneity of tumor and arrested cells using pulse-processing can lead to errors and make interlaboratory comparison difficult.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Breast / cytology
  • Breast Neoplasms
  • Carcinoma
  • Cell Cycle / physiology*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Size
  • DNA / metabolism*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry / instrumentation*
  • Flow Cytometry / methods
  • Humans
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted* / instrumentation


  • DNA