Cell Viability Assays

时间:Jun 15, 2016   次数:

This chapter is an introductory overview of the most commonly used assay methods to estimate the number of viable cells in multi-well plates. This chapter describes assays where data are recorded using a plate-reader; it does not cover assay methods designed for flow cytometry or high content imaging. The assay methods covered include the use of different classes of colorimetric tetrazolium reagents, resazurin reduction and protease substrates generating a fluorescent signal, and the luminogenic ATP assay. The assays described are based on measurement of a marker activity associated with viable cell number. These assays are used for measuring the results of cell proliferation, testing for cytotoxic effects of compounds, and for multiplexing as an internal control to determine viable cell number during other cell-based assays.

Cell-based assays are often used for screening collections of compounds to determine if the test molecules have effects on cell proliferation or show direct cytotoxic effects that eventually lead to cell death. Cell-based assays also are widely used for measuring receptor binding and a variety of signal transduction events that may involve the expression of genetic reporters, trafficking of cellular components, or monitoring organelle function. Regardless of the type of cell-based assay being used, it is important to know how many viable cells are remaining at the end of the experiment. There are a variety of assay methods that can be used to estimate the number of viable eukaryotic cells. This chapter will provide an overview of some of the major methods used in multi-well formats where data are recorded using a plate reader. The methods described include: tetrazolium reduction, resazurin reduction, protease markers, and ATP detection. Methods for flow cytometry and high content imaging may be covered in different chapters in the future. The tetrazolium reduction, resazurin reduction, and protease activity assays measure some aspect of general metabolism or an enzymatic activity as a marker of viable cells. All of these assays require incubation of a reagent with a population of viable cells to convert a substrate to a colored or fluorescent product that can be detected with a plate reader. Under most standard culture conditions, incubation of the substrate with viable cells will result in generating a signal that is proportional to the number of viable cells present. When cells die, they rapidly lose the ability to convert the substrate to product. That difference provides the basis for many of the commonly used cell viability assays. The ATP assay is somewhat different in that the addition of assay reagent immediately ruptures the cells, thus there is no incubation period of reagent with a viable cell population.
Tetrazolium Reduction Assays
A variety of tetrazolium compounds have been used to detect viable cells. The most commonly used compounds include: MTT, MTS, XTT, and WST-1. These compounds fall into two basic categories: 1) MTT which is positively charged and readily penetrates viable eukaryotic cells and 2) those such as MTS, XTT, and WST-1 which are negatively charged and do not readily penetrate cells. The latter class (MTS, XTT, WST-1) are typically used with an intermediate electron acceptor that can transfer electrons from the cytoplasm or plasma membrane to facilitate the reduction of the tetrazolium into the colored formazan product.
MTT Tetrazolium Assay Concept
The MTT (3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide) tetrazolium reduction assay was the first homogeneous cell viability assay developed for a 96-well format that was suitable for high throughput screening (HTS). The MTT tetrazolium assay technology has been widely adopted and remains popular in academic labs as evidenced by thousands of published articles. The MTT substrate is prepared in a physiologically balanced solution, added to cells in culture, usually at a final concentration of 0.2 - 0.5mg/ml, and incubated for 1 to 4 hours. The quantity of formazan (presumably directly proportional to the number of viable cells) is measured by recording changes in absorbance at 570 nm using a plate reading spectrophotometer. A reference wavelength of 630 nm is sometimes used, but not necessary for most assay conditions. Viable cells with active metabolism convert MTT into a purple colored formazan product with an absorbance maximum near 570 nm (Figure 1). When cells die, they lose the ability to convert MTT into formazan, thus color formation serves as a useful and convenient marker of only the viable cells. The exact cellular mechanism of MTT reduction into formazan is not well understood, but likely involves reaction with NADH or similar reducing molecules that transfer electrons to MTT. Speculation in the early literature involving specific mitochondrial enzymes has led to the assumption mentioned in numerous publications that MTT is measuring mitochondrial activity.
The formazan product of the MTT tetrazolium accumulates as an insoluble precipitate inside cells as well as being deposited near the cell surface and in the culture medium. The formazan must be solubilized prior to recording absorbance readings. A variety of methods have been used to solubilize the formazan product, stabilize the color, avoid evaporation, and reduce interference by phenol red and other culture medium components. Various solubilization methods include using: acidified isopropanol, DMSO, dimethylformamide, SDS, and combinations of detergent and organic solvent. Acidification of the solubilizing solution has the benefit of changing the color of phenol red to yellow color that may have less interference with absorbance readings. The pH of the solubilization solution can be adjusted to provide maximum absorbance if sensitivity is an issue; however, other assay technologies offer much greater sensitivity than MTT. The amount of signal generated is dependent on several parameters including: the concentration of MTT, the length of the incubation period, the number of viable cells and their and metabolic activity. All of these parameters should be considered when optimizing the assay conditions to generate a sufficient amount of product that can be detected above background.
Longer incubation time will result in accumulation of color and increased sensitivity up to a point; however, the incubation time is limited because of the cytotoxic nature of the detection reagents which utilize energy (reducing equivalents such as NADH) from the cell to generate a signal. For cell populations in log phase growth, the amount of formazan product is generally proportional to the number of metabolically active viable cells as demonstrated by the linearity of response in Figure 2. Culture conditions that alter the metabolism of the cells will likely affect the rate of MTT reduction into formazan. For example, when adherent cells in culture approach confluence and growth becomes contact inhibited, metabolism may slow down and the amount MTT reduction per cell will be lower. That situation will lead to a loss of linearity between absorbance and cell number. Other adverse culture conditions such as altered pH or depletion of essential nutrients such as glucose may lead to a change in the ability of cells to reduce MTT.The MTT assay was developed as a non-radioactive alternative to tritiated thymidine incorporation into DNA for measuring cell proliferation. 
However, it is worth noting that MTT reduction is a marker reflecting viable cell metabolism and not specifically cell proliferation. Tetrazolium reduction assays are often erroneously described as measuring cell proliferation without the use of proper controls to confirm effects on metabolism.
Toxicity of the MTT compound is likely related to the concentration added to cells. Optimizing the concentration may result in lower toxicity. Given the cytotoxic nature of MTT, the assay method must be considered as an endpoint assay. A recent report speculated that formazan crystals contribute to harming cells by puncturing membranes during exocytosis. The observation of extracellular formazan crystals many times the diameter of cells that grow longer over time make it seem unlikely that exocytosis of those large structures was involved.
Growing crystals may suggest that marginally soluble formazan accumulates where seed crystals have begun to deposit. 
Reducing compounds are known to interfere with tetrazolium reduction assays. Chemicals such as ascorbic acid, or sulfhydryl-containing compounds including reduced glutathione, coenzyme A, and dithiothreitol, can reduce tetrazolium salts non-enzymatically and lead to increased absorbance values in assay wells. Culture medium at elevated pH or extended exposure of reagents to direct light also may cause an accelerated spontaneous reduction of tetrazolium salts and result in increased background absorbance values. Suspected chemical interference of test compounds can be confirmed by measuring absorbance values from control wells without cells incubated with culture medium containing MTT and various concentrations of the test compound.
Commercial Availability
Commercial kits containing solutions of MTT and a solubilization reagent as well as MTT reagent powder are available from several vendors.
For example: 
•CellTiter 96® Non-Radioactive Cell Proliferation Assay. Promega Corporation Cat.# G4000,
•Cell Growth Determination Kit, MTT based. Sigma-Aldrich Cat.# CGD1-1KT, and 
•MTT Cell Growth Assay Kit. Millipore Cat.# CT02. 
•Thiazolyl Blue Tetrazolium Bromide (MTT Powder). Sigma-Aldrich Cat.# M2128. 
The concentration of the MTT solution and the nature of the solubilization reagent differ among various vendors. The amount of formazan signal generated will depend on variety of parameters including the cell type, number of cells per well, culture medium, etc. Although the commercially available kits are broadly applicable to a large number of cell types and assay conditions, the concentration of the MTT and the type of solubilization solution may need to be adjusted for optimal performance.
Reagent Preparation
MTT Solution
1.Dissolve MTT in Dulbecco’s Phosphate Buffered Saline, pH=7.4 (DPBS) to 5 mg/ml.
2.Filter-sterilize the MTT solution through a 0.2 µM filter into a sterile, light protected container. 
3.Store the MTT solution, protected from light, at 4°C for frequent use or at -20°C for long term storage. 
Solubilization Solution
1.Choose appropriate solvent resistant container and work in a ventilated fume hood. 
2.Prepare 40% (vol/vol) dimethylformamide (DMF) in 2% (vol/vol) glacial acetic acid. 
3.Add 16% (wt/vol) sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) and dissolve. 
4.Adjust to pH = 4.7
5.Store at room temperature to avoid precipitation of SDS. If a precipitate forms, warm to 37°C and mix to solubilize SDS. 
MTT Assay Protocol
1.Prepare cells and test compounds in 96-well plates containing a final volume of 100 µl/well. 
2.Incubate for desired period of exposure. 
3.Add 10 µl MTT Solution per well to achieve a final concentration of 0.45 mg/ml. 
4.Incubate 1 to 4 hours at 37°C. 
5.Add 100 µl Solubilization solution to each well to dissolve formazan crystals. 
6.Mix to ensure complete solubilization. 
7.Record absorbance at 570 nm. 
MTS Tetrazolium Assay Concept
More recently developed tetrazolium reagents can be reduced by viable cells to generate formazan products that are directly soluble in cell culture medium. Tetrazolium compounds fitting this category include MTS, XTT, and the WST series. These improved tetrazolium reagents eliminate a liquid handling step during the assay procedure because a second addition of reagent to the assay plate is not needed to solubilize formazan precipitates, thus making the protocols more convenient. The negative charge of the formazan products that contribute to solubility in cell culture medium are thought to limit cell permeability of the tetrazolium. This set of tetrazolium reagents is used in combination with intermediate electron acceptor reagents such as phenazine methyl sulfate (PMS) or phenazine ethyl sulfate (PES) which can penetrate viable cells, become reduced in the cytoplasm or at the cell surface and exit the cells where they can convert the tetrazolium to the soluble formazan product. 
In general, this class of tetrazolium compounds is prepared at 1 to 2mg/ml concentration because they are not as soluble as MTT. The type and concentration of the intermediate electron acceptor used varies among commercially available reagents and in many products the identity of the intermediate electron acceptor is not disclosed. Because of the potential toxic nature of the intermediate electron acceptors, optimization may be advisable for different cell types and individual assay conditions. There may be a narrow range of concentrations of intermediate electron acceptor that result in optimal performance.
Commercial Availability
Commercial kits containing solutions of MTS, XTT, and WST-1 and an intermediate electron acceptor reagent are available from several vendors.
For example: 
•CellTiter 96® AQueous One Solution Cell Proliferation Assay. Promega Corporation Cat.# G3580,
•In Vitro Toxicology Assay Kit, XTT based. Sigma-Aldrich Cat.# TOX2-1KT, 
•Cell Counting Kit-8 (WST-8 based). Dojindo Molecular Technologies, Inc. Cat.# CK04-01, 
•MTS Reagent Powder. Promega Corporation Cat.# G1111,
•XTT sodium salt. Sigma-Aldrich Cat.# X4626.
Reagent Preparation
MTS Solution (containing PES)
1.Dissolve MTS powder in DPBS to 2 mg/ml to produce a clear golden-yellow solution.
2.Dissolve PES powder in MTS solution to 0.21 mg/ml.
3.Adjust to pH 6.0 to 6.5 using 1N HCl.
4.Filter-sterilize through a 0.2 μm filter into a sterile, light protected container.
5.Store the MTS solution containing PES protected from light at 4°C for frequent use or at -20°C for long term storage.
MTS Assay Protocol
1.Prepare cells and test compounds in 96-well plates containing a final volume of 100 µl/well. An optional set of wells can be prepared with medium only for background subtraction.
2.Incubate for desired period of exposure. 
3.Add 20 µl MTS solution containing PES to each well (final concentration of MTS will be 0.33 mg/ml).
4.Incubate 1 to 4 hours at 37°C.
5.Record absorbance at 490 nm. 
One of the advantages of the tetrazolium assays that produce an aqueous soluble formazan is that absorbance can be recorded form the assay plates periodically during early stages of incubation. Multiple readings may assist during assay development; but caution should be taken to return the plates to the incubator between readings to maintain a nearly constant environment. Extended incubations with the tetrazolium reagent beyond four hours should be avoided.
Whereas the background (culture medium and tetrazolium without cells) absorbance at 570 nm for an MTT assay may be 0.05, in general the background absorbance for the class of tetrazolium reagents is usually somewhat higher, in the range of 0.3 absorbance units and can depend on the type of culture medium and pH.

Resazurin Reduction Assay Concept
Resazurin is a cell permeable redox indicator that can be used to monitor viable cell number with protocols similar to those utilizing the tetrazolium compounds. Resazurin can be dissolved in physiological buffers (resulting in a deep blue colored solution) and added directly to cells in culture in a homogeneous format. Addition of an intermediate electron acceptor is not required for cellular resazurin reduction to occur, but it may accelerate signal generation. The quantity of resorufin produced is proportional to the number of viable cells which can be quantified using a microplate fluorometer equipped with a 560 nm excitation / 590 nm emission filter set. Resorufin also can be quantified by measuring a change in absorbance; however, absorbance detection is not often used because it is far less sensitive than measuring fluorescence. The resazurin reduction assay is slightly more sensitive than tetrazolium reduction assays and there are numerous reports using the resazurin reduction assay in a miniaturized format for HTS applications.
The incubation period required to generate an adequate fluorescent signal above background is usually 1 to 4 hours and is dependent on the metabolic activity of the particular cell type, the cell density per well, and other assay conditions including the type of culture medium. The incubation period should be optimized and kept short enough to avoid reagent toxicity but long enough to provide adequate sensitivity.The major advantages of the resazurin reduction assay are that it is relatively inexpensive, it uses a homogeneous format, and it is more sensitive that tetrazolium assays. Multiplexing may require a sequential protocol to avoid color quenching by resazurin or direct chemical interference. For the multiplex example shown in Figure 8, resorufin fluorescence must be recorded first, followed by addition of the caspase reagent which contains detergent to lyse cells and reducing compounds to convert remaining resazurin and reduce interference with collecting the second fluorescent signal. Some protocols describe exposing cells to resazurin for several hours or even days; however, in some systems, changes in cell morphology can be observed after only a few hours of exposure suggesting interference with normal cell function. It is possible that exposure of cells to resazurin depletes reduced forms of nucleotides resulting in cytotoxic effects. Exposure of cells to resazurin is known to reduce the amount of ATP measured as a marker of cell viability. Figure 10 shows a decrease in ATP content of HepG2 cells exposed to resazurin for 4 and 24 hours.
Commercial Availability 
Commercial kits containing solutions of resazurin as well as resazurin powder are available from several vendors.
For example: 
•CellTiter-Blue® Cell Viability Assay. Promega Corporation Cat.# G8081,
•In Vitro Toxicology Assay Kit, Resazurin based. Sigma-Aldrich Cat.# TOX8-1KT,
•alamarBlue®—Rapid & Accurate Cell Health Indicator. Life Technologies, Inc. Cat.# DAL1100
•alamarBlue® AbD Serotech Cat.# BUF012B
•Resazurin sodium salt. Sigma-Aldrich Cat.# R7017-1G 
Resazurin powder is readily available from chemical vendors; however, the resazurin dye content (% purity) and contamination with resorufin can lead to variability in assay results and the need to perform validation of each lot of reagent powder. Viability assay kits containing performance verified resazurin as the primary ingredient are available from different vendors; but the resazurin concentration and additional ingredients vary. The alamarBlue patent US 5,501,959 describes the use of poising agents to maintain the redox potential of the growth medium and prevent reduction of resazurin resulting in background signal. Preferred poising agents described include ferricyanide and ferrocyanide as well as methylene blue which can also serve as a redox indicator. The potential for undesired effects of additional ingredients in the proprietary alamarBlue formulation and the demonstrated performance equivalence of less complex formulations of highly purified resazurin in balanced saline solution should be considered when choosing an assay reagent.

Reagent Preparation
1.Dissolve high purity resazurin in DPBS (pH 7.4) to 0.15 mg/ml.
2.Filter-sterilize the resazurin solution through a 0.2 μm filter into a sterile, light protected container.
3.Store the resazurin solution protected from light at 4°C for frequent use or at -20°C for long term storage.
Resazurin Assay Protocol
1.Prepare cells and test compounds in opaque-walled 96-well plates containing a final volume of 100 µl/well. An optional set of wells can be prepared with medium only for background subtraction and instrument gain adjustment.
2.Incubate for desired period of exposure.
3.Add 20 µl resazurin solution to each well.
4.Incubate 1 to 4 hours at 37°C.
5.Record fluorescence using a 560 nm excitation / 590 nm emission filter set. 

A general disadvantage of both the tetrazolium and resazurin reduction assay protocols is the requirement to incubate the substrate with viable cells at 37°C for an adequate period of time to generate a signal. Incubation of the tetrazolium or resazurin reagents with viable cells increases the possibility of artifacts resulting from chemical interactions among the assay chemistry, the compounds being tested, and the biochemistry of the cell. Incubation also introduces an extra plate handling step that is not required for the ATP assay protocol described later. Extra plate manipulation steps increase the possibility of errors and are not desirable for automated assays for HTS. 
Protease Viability Marker Assay Concept
Measurement of a conserved and constitutive protease activity within live cells has been shown to serve as a marker of cell viability. A cell permeable fluorogenic protease substrate (glycylphenylalanyl-aminofluorocoumarin; GF-AFC) has recently been developed to selectively detect protease activity that is restricted to viable cells. As soon as the cells die, this protease activity rapidly disappears, thus making this protease activity a selective marker of the viable cell population. This assay approach is available as a commercial product from Promega Corporation (32). The components of the product include: GF-AFC 100mM in DMSO and an Assay Buffer for dilution of the substrate. 
In addition, long term exposure of the GF-AFC substrate to cells results in little change in viability measured using ATP as a marker. This is in direct contrast to the effects of exposing cells to tetrazolium or resazurin redox indicators which have been demonstrated to be toxic to cells as described above. The non-toxic nature of the GF-AFC substrate makes it an ideal candidate for multiplexing with other assay technologies using a sequential assay protocol. After recording fluorescence data from the live cell protease assay, the population of cells remains viable and can be used for subsequent assays as long as the fluorescent signal from AFC does not interfere. This property enables “on-the-fly” detection and follow-up of cytotoxic hits during screening campaigns. Wells containing hits can be subjected to an orthogonal method to detect viable cell number or an alternate assay method to detect the mechanism leading to cell death. Figure 14 shows an example of multiplexing the live cell protease marker and a luminescent caspase assay to detect apoptosis. In this example, the decrease in viability corresponds to an increase in caspase activity suggesting the mode of cell death is via apoptosis. An advantage of measuring this protease as a viability marker is that in general, the incubation time required to get an adequate signal is much shorter (30 min to 1 hour), compared to 1 to 4 hours required for the tetrazolium assays.
GF-AFC Reagent Preparation
1.Thaw the GF-AFC substrate and Assay Buffer components from the CellTiter-Fluor™ Cell Viability Assay kit following the detailed procedure in the Technical Bulletin #371. 
2.Transfer 10 µl of the GF-AFC Substrate into 10 ml of the Assay Buffer to prepare a 2X Reagent. Note: For multiplexing applications where total sample volume is a concern, a 10X Reagent can be prepared by adding 10 µl GF-AFC Substrate to 2 ml of Assay Buffer.
3.Mix by vortexing the contents until the GF-AFC substrate is thoroughly dissolved. 
Storage: Store the CellTiter-Fluor™ Cell Viability Assay components at –20°C. The diluted CellTiter-Fluor™ Viability Reagent should be used within 24 hours if stored at room temperature. Unused GF-AFC Substrate and Assay Buffer can be stored at 4°C for up to 7 days with no appreciable loss of activity.
Live Cell Protease Assay Protocol
1.Set up opaque-walled 96-well assay plates containing cells in culture medium at desired density. An optional set of wells can be prepared with medium only for background subtraction and instrument gain adjustment.
2.Add test compounds and vehicle controls to appropriate wells so that the final volume is 100 μl in each well (25 μl for a 384-well plate). 
3.Culture cells for the desired test exposure period.
4.Add CellTiter-Fluor™ Reagent in an equal volume (100 μl per well) to all wells, mix briefly by orbital shaking, then incubate for at least 30 minutes at 37°C. Note: Longer incubations may improve assay sensitivity and dynamic range. However, do not incubate more than 3 hours, and be sure to shield plates from ambient light.
5.Measure resulting fluorescence using a fluorometer (380–400 nm Ex/505 nm Em).
ATP Assay Concept
The measurement of ATP using firefly luciferase is the most commonly applied method for estimating the number of viable cells in HTS applications. Data from several example HTS assays using ATP assays are publically available on Pubchem. ATP has been widely accepted as a valid marker of viable cells. When cells lose membrane integrity, they lose the ability to synthesize ATP and endogenous ATPases rapidly deplete any remaining ATP from the cytoplasm. Although luciferase has been used to measure ATP for decades, recent advances in assay design have resulted in a single reagent addition homogeneous protocol that results in a luminescent signal that glows for hours. The most significant technological advancement was made under the direction of Keith Wood at Promega Corporation where directed evolution was used to select for stable molecules and generate improved versions of luciferase. The stable version of luciferase was the enabling technology that led to development of robust assays for HTS that can withstand harsh cell lysis conditions and are more resistant to luciferase inhibitors found in libraries of small molecules.
The ATP detection reagent contains detergent to lyse the cells, ATPase inhibitors to stabilize the ATP that is released from the lysed cells, luciferin as a substrate, and the stable form of luciferase to catalyze the reaction that generates photons of light. 
The ATP assay is the fastest cell viability assay to use, the most sensitive, and is less prone to artifacts than other viability assay methods. The luminescent signal reaches a steady state and stabilizes within 10 minutes after addition of reagent and typically glows with a half-life greater than 5 hours. The ATP assay has the advantage that you do not have to rely on an incubation step with a population of viable cells to convert a substrate (such a tetrazolium or resazurin) into a colored compound. This also eliminates a plate handling step because you do not have to return cells to the incubator to generate signal.
The ATP assay chemistry can typically detect fewer than 10 cells per well and has been used widely in 1536-well format. The ATP assay sensitivity is usually limited by reproducibility of pipetting replicate samples rather than a result of the assay chemistry.

Commercial Availability
Commercial kits containing solutions of resazurin as well as resazurin powder are available from several vendors.
For example: 
•CellTiter-Glo® Luminescent Cell Viability Assay. Promega Corporation Cat.# G7570
•ATPLite™ 1 step, Perkin Elmer Cat.# 6016731,
•Adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATP) bioluminescent somatic cell assay kit. Sigma-Aldrich Cat.# FLASC-1KT.

The most common version of the CellTiter-Glo® Assay kit contains a lyophilized CellTiter-Glo® Substrate and the CellTiter-Glo® Buffer which are both stored at –20°C; however, a bulk frozen liquid version of CellTiter-Glo® Assay also is available which eliminates the step of reconstituting the lyophilized Substrate. For more detailed information, refer to Promega Technical Bulletin #288. 
ATP Assay Reagent Preparation
1.Thaw the CellTiter-Glo® Buffer and CellTiter-Glo® Substrate and equilibrate to room temperature prior to use. For convenience the CellTiter-Glo® Buffer may be thawed and stored at room temperature for up to 48 hours prior to use.
2.Transfer the appropriate volume (10ml for Cat.# G7570) of CellTiter-Glo® Buffer into the amber bottle containing CellTiter-Glo® Substrate to reconstitute the lyophilized enzyme/substrate mixture. This forms the CellTiter-Glo® Reagent.
3.Mix by gently vortexing, swirling or inverting the contents to obtain a homogeneous solution. The CellTiter-Glo® Substrate should go into solution easily in less than 1 minute.

ATP Assay Protocol
1.Set up white opaque walled microwell assay plates containing cells in culture medium at desired density.
2.Add test compounds and vehicle controls to appropriate wells so that the final volume is 100 μl in each well for 96-well plate (25 μl for a 384-well plate). 
3.Culture cells for the desired test exposure period.
4.Equilibrate plates to ambient temperature for 30 min to ensure uniform temperature across plate during luminescent assay.
5.Add CellTiter-Glo® Reagent in an equal volume (100 μl per well for 96-well plates or 25 μl per well for 384-well plates) to all wells.
6.Mix contents for 2 minutes on an orbital shaker to induce cell lysis.
7.Allow the plate to incubate at room temperature for 10 minutes to stabilize luminescent signal. Note: Uneven luminescent signal within standard plates can be caused by temperature gradients, uneven seeding of cells or edge effects in multiwall plates.
8.Record luminescence.
There are a variety of assay technologies available that use standard plate readers to measure metabolic markers to estimate the number of viable cells in culture. Each cell viability assay has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. The ATP detection assay is by far the most sensitive, has fewer steps, is the fastest to perform, and has the least amount of interference whereas the tetrazolium or resazurin reduction assays offer less expensive alternatives that may achieve adequate performance depending on experimental design. The fluorogenic cell permeable protease substrate is far less cytotoxic than the tetrazolium and resazurin compounds while enabling many possibilities for multiplexing other assays to serve as orthogonal or confirmatory methods. Regardless of the assay method chosen, the major factors critical for reproducibility and success include: 1) using a tightly controlled and consistent source of cells to set up experiments and 2) performing appropriate characterization of reagent concentration and incubation time for each experimental model system.