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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

In situ screening assay for cell viability using a dimeric cyanine nucleic acid stain.

A rapid and sensitive assay is described for the determination of cell viability of adherent and nonadherent cells that can be performed in situ in 96-well microtiter plates using fluorescence plate scanners. The assay, based on dye exclusion, utilizes a plasma membrane-impermeable, dimeric cyanine dye (YOYO-1). YOYO-1 fluoresces brightly only when bound to nucleic acids. Cells are incubated with YOYO-1, and fluorescence is measured before and after the addition of detergent, which allows the dye to enter the cells. The fluorescence before detergent treatment originates from nonviable cells that have membrane damage and take up YOYO-1. The fluorescence after detergent treatment originates from all cells in the sample. The ratio of the two fluorescence values is used as an indicator of cell viability. The cell viability results of this microplate assay closely resemble those of dye exclusion studies by flow cytometry and are similar but not identical to those of the thiazolyl blue assay, which uses a metabolic indicator of cell death. Because the assay can be performed in situ, without removing the medium, disintegrated cells, cell aggregates, and cells that stick to culture vessel walls are all included in the measurement.[1]


  1. In situ screening assay for cell viability using a dimeric cyanine nucleic acid stain. Becker, B., Clapper, J., Harkins, K.R., Olson, J.A. Anal. Biochem. (1994) [Pubmed]
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