The Cell Transformation Assay: Toward a Statistical Classification of Mixed and Intermediate Foci Images
Claudio Procaccianti, Federico M. Stefanini and Chiara Urani
The human carcinogenicity evaluation of chemicals has a great impact on public health. In vitro methods, such as the cell transformation assay (CTA), allow for a fast and reliable assessment of the carcinogenic potential of a chemical compound in comparison with the standard two-year bioassay. The scoring and classification of foci in selected cell lines is performed, after staining, by light microscopy. Foci can be separated into three classes: type I, which are scored as non-transformed, and types II and III that are considered to include fully transformed foci. However, in a number of cases, even an expert is uncertain about the attribution of a focus to a given class, due to its mixed or intermediate nature. Here, we suggest a simple approach to classifying mixed or intermediate foci by exploiting the quantitative information available from images, which is captured by statistical descriptors. A quantitative index is proposed, to describe the degree of dissimilarity of mixed and intermediate images to the three well-distinguished classes.