Objective: To develop numeric, statistically secured measures of chemopreventive efficacy and to derive procedures with high sensitivity of detection.
Study design: Karyometric features were computed for nuclei from the basal cell layer of biopsies taken from sun-exposed but histologically "normal" skin. Biopsies were collected from placebo-treated subjects and subjects treated for one year with daily, oral doses of 25,000, 50,000 and 75,000 IU of vitamin A. A total of 22,600 nuclei were recorded from 113 cases, at baseline and after one year.
Results: Two numeric measures of chemopreventive efficacy were applied: a measure of nuclear abnormality and a measure based on discriminant function scores. Both showed statistically significant chemopreventive effects of vitamin A. Dose-response curves were derived. A novel procedure, second order discriminant analysis, resulted in very high sensitivity for the detection of change in nuclear chromatin patterns.
Conclusion: Karyometric analysis has increased in sensitivity such that changes on the order of 10%, found in only a low percentage of nuclei in a biopsy specimen, can be reliably documented. The methodology lends itself to cost-efficient screening of compounds for chemopreventive efficacy.