A method of improving absorption cytophotometric cellular DNA values by making measurements on Feulgen-stained cells at optimal stain absorbances has been developed. Stain intensity can be controlled either by alteration of the Feulgen staining reaction or by selection of 'off-peak' wavelengths of light for cytometry. The use of chicken red blood cells as an internal standard, and of a computerized cytometer for the measurements, allows selection of the appropriate off-peak light wavelengths, correction for staining variability at different sites on the same slide, and rapid calculation of cellular DNA values. Cytometry can also be performed at controlled absorbance levels on autoradiographs of 3H-thymidine-labeled cells to allow direct study of the DNA content of nonlabeled G1/G0 and G2/M cells. Use of this technique on mixtures of mouse thymocytes, spleen cells, bone marrow cells, and liver cells gave essentially identical values for G1/G0 cellular DNA content, with coefficients of variation of less than 3%.
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