Almost all research involving cells requires researchers to be able to determine information such as the viability of cells, their cell cycle state and rate of proliferation, the level of cell death (apoptosis), and the cytotoxicity.
This article gives an overview of the different options available to assess these parameters.
It should also be kept in mind that no single assay method, when used in isolation, provides a comprehensive overview of a cell population. For this reason it is more effective to use several different assay methods in your research.
Cell viability assays provide researchers with the ability to measure the rate of cell metabolism and the activity of enzymes within cells.
A large range of different assays are available to researchers which include:
- Dyes - mitochondrial membrane-dependant and esterase-cleaved
- MTT, MTS, resazurin (and similar)
- Glycolytic flux and oxygen consumption assays
- ATP and ADP assays
Cell Cycle and Proliferation Assays
Cell cycle and proliferation assays allow researchers to observe the rate at which cells are growing and proliferating. The assays can also be used to determine the cell cycle state of an entire cell population, to detect different generations of cells or as another method of analyzing cell viability.
Assays available for this type of monitoring include:
- BrdU and EdU assays
- Dye dilution assays
- DNA staining assays
Cell Death (Apoptosis) Analysis
The level of cell death occurring can be determined using assays such as:
Cytotoxicity assays determine how cytotoxic the cell environment is by determining the level of cytolysis (membrane leakage) occurring in a cell population.
Assays used to determine cytotoxicity include:
- Assays using dyes which cannot permeate membranes (e.g. 7-AAD)
- LDH enzyme leakage assays
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