All tags Cellular and biochemical assays Cytotoxicity assays

Cell health

Cytotoxicity assays

Learn about your options when you need a cytotoxicity assay.

Cytotoxicity assays are often based on assessing damage to cellular membranes.

Methods include

See below to learn more about these assays. Our most popular assay kits include LDH, DRAQ7®, and our combined dye live:dead cell assay.

Other assays for cytotoxicity measure it indirectly, by measuring cell viability, ie the number of healthy cells in a population. Learn about cell viability assays, such as MTT, MTS, resazurin and similar assays, mitochondrial membrane potential-dependent dyes, cellular esterase cleaved dyes, ATP and ADP assays, and assays that measure glycolytic flux and oxygen consumption.

You can also learn about apoptosis assays, such as Annexin V, TUNEL and caspase assays, and about cell proliferation/cell cycle assays, such as those using dye dilution, BrdU/EdU and DNA staining dyes.


Enzyme leakage

These assays measure the activity of enzymes that leak into the extracellular medium on cell membrane damage. The most popular assay is for lactate dehydrogenase.

Assay

Instrument

Notes

Assay kits

LDH/Lactate dehydrogenase

Plate reader

LDH oxidizes lactate and a colored, or fluorescent (Ex/Em 535/587 nm) product is formed.

ab65393
ab197004

AK/Adenylate kinase

AK converts ADP to ATP with detection via luciferase light-generation.
AK activity is not as enduring as LDH.


Membrane impermeable dyes

Cell viability assays often use membrane-impermeable fluorescent dyes (mostly DNA stains) that stain cells with damaged cell membranes. Propidium iodide has largely been replaced by DRAQ7™ and 7-AAD for cell viability assays due to its broad emission spectra and tendency to bind to live cells.

Assay

Instrument

Notes

Assay kits

DRAQ7TM

Flow cytometer, microscope


Ex/Em 633 & 647/665–800 nm. DNA stain.

ab109202

7-AAD

Ex/Em 488/647 nm. DNA stain.


Propidium Iodide

Ex/Em 536/617 nm. DNA stain.Leaches from cells over time.

ab14083

Ethidium homodimer-1

Ex/Em 528/617. DNA stain.


Trypan blue

Microscope

Non-fluorescent cell stain. Classic cell viability assay that requires cell counting. Best for small sample numbers.



Amine-reactive dyes for live:dead cell assays

Amine-reactive dyes weakly stain viable cells by binding to cell surface amines and strongly stain membrane-compromised cells by reacting with intracellular amines. Dead and live cells can be differentiated by fluorescence level.

Assay

Instrument

Notes

Assay kits

Amine-reactive dyes

Flow cytometer

Ex/Em 410/450 nm.
Fixation compatible (applies to all dyes in this table).

Ex/Em 408/512 nm

Ex/Em 398/550 nm

Ex/Em 353/442 nm

Ex/Em 498/521 nm

Ex/Em 547/573 nm

Ex/Em 583/603 nm

Ex/Em 649/660 nm

ab176738

ab176739

ab176740

ab176741

ab176742

ab176743

ab176744

ab176745


Combined dye live:dead cell assays

Multiple dyes can be combined in a single live:dead cell assay. Examples include the popular live and dead cell assay (ab115347) with ethidium homodimer to label dead cells and an esterase-cleaved dye for live cells. The alternative, cell viability assay kit (fluorometric – dual green/red) (ab112121), includes a red DNA staining dye for dead cells and a green esterase-cleaved dye for live cells.


Learn more about:

Cell viability assays based on cell metabolism/enzyme activity
Measure the rate of continuing cellular activities, such as metabolism.

Cell proliferation and cell cycle assays
Monitor the growth of a cell population using cell staining dyes, detect generations of daughter cells, or analyze the cell cycle state of a cell population.

Apoptosis assays/cell death analysis
Measure the markers present in different types of cell death.


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