In vitro measurement of the thymidine labeling index (TLI) of solid tissues requires hyperbaric oxygenation and is potentiated by blockade of thymidylate synthetase by 5-fluoro-2′-deoxyuridine (FUdR) to favor uptake of tritiated thymidine (3H-TdR). Hyperbaric oxygenation can be achieved in a simple system through injection of oxygen into rubber-stoppered test tubes. Incubations are carried out in Hanks’ balanced salt solution in a shaker bath at 37 C for 2 hours; an FUdR concentration of approximately 1 micron is optimal. Autoradiographic exposure for 1 week or less is sufficient for TLI measurements on human tissues. With 3 to 4 atmospheres oxygen tension, incorporation of 3H-TdR is sufficient for TLI measurement throughout slices of tissue cut 1 mm thick or less. Mincing of tissue is not necessary, and the anatomic continuity seen in ordinary histological preparations is preserved. A gradient of labeling intensity is present from the surface to the interior of the tissue, but sufficient intensity of labeling for detection of DNA synthesis can be achieved in the interior of the section. The gradient can be reduced only slightly by prior incubation in 3H-TdR with hyperbaric oxygen at 0 C. The method permits TLI measurements on the same specimens, including needle biopsies, that are used for pathologic diagnosis.

Meyer, Connor, , , , , , , (1977). In vitro labeling of solid tissues with tritiated thymidine for autoradiographic detection of S-phase nuclei. Stain technology, 1977 Jul;52(4):185-95. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/143737