The monoclonal antibody Ki-67 detects a nuclear antigen that is present only in proliferating cells. The aim of the present investigation was to clarify whether the Ki-67 nuclear antigen is restricted in its expression to certain phases of the cell cycle. All experiments consistently showed that the Ki-67 nuclear antigen is present in S, G2, and M phase, but is absent in G0. However, the results concerning Ki-67 antigen expression in G1 phase varied: cells passing the early events of mitogen triggered transition from G0 to G1, i.e., G1T and first G1A, lacked the Ki-67 nuclear antigen, whereas G1 cells after mitosis were constantly Ki-67-positive. This result suggests that after mitosis cells might not follow the same metabolic pathways as G0 cells do when entering G1 for the first time. Therefore, we suggest that the early stages of mitogen stimulation represent initial sequences of proliferation and not parts of the cell cycle. Because our data show that the Ki-67 nuclear antigen is present throughout the cell cycle, immunostaining with monoclonal antibody Ki-67 provides a reliable means of rapidly evaluating the growth fraction of normal and neoplastic human cell populations.

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