Cytotoxicity assays

Introduction to cytotoxicity assays

The term “cytotoxicity” refers to toxicity to cells, thereby investigating whether the exogenous agents do not interfere with healthy cell functionality and do not cause apoptotic or necrotic cell death. This information is valuable for a number of research areas and experimental applications. For example, the suitability of bioactive compounds – like drugs and nanoparticles – as clinical therapies is based on the cytotoxicity of the compounds to healthy and diseased cells, where the main cytotoxic effect should be exclusively observed in the diseased cells. Furthermore, the biocompatibility of medical devices in direct/indirect contact with the human body is essential for the proper functioning of these devices.

The CytoSMART Exact FL: counting live/dead cells

Cytotoxicity can be assessed from the analysis of cell numbers, subdivided into a number of viable cells, dead cells, and/or dying cells. Assays directly counting these cells are sometimes referred to as “viability assays”. These assays can be performed using the fluorescence cell counter, CytoSMART Exact FL that can determine the viability of cells in suspension. The CytoSMART Exact FL can be used to assess cell viability using both, Trypan blue, as well as fluorescence staining.

The CytoSMART Lux3 BR: brightfield imager in cytotoxicity experiments

Destructive, endpoint cytotoxicity methods can be experimentally challenging, because these assays require many more samples and resources to obtain a time profile. On the other hand, non-endpoint assays, such as those involving live cell monitoring using brightfield imaging, can be used to obtain insight into both cell number and cell activity, without requiring extra resources or effort for the researcher.

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