Background: 5-Bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU) is a powerful compound to study the mitotic activity of a cell. Most techniques that identify BrdU-labeled cells require conditions that kill the cells. However, the fluorescence intensity of the membrane-permeable Hoechst dyes is reduced by the incorporation of BrdU into DNA, allowing the separation of viable BrdU positive (BrdU+) cells from viable BrdU negative (BrdU-) cells.
Methods: Cultures of proliferating cells were supplemented with BrdU for 48 h and other cultures of proliferating cells were maintained without BrdU. Mixtures of viable BrdU+ and viable BrdU- cells from the two proliferating cultures were stained with Hoechst 33342. The viable BrdU+ and BrdU- cells were sorted into different fractions from a mixture of BrdU+ and BrdU- cells based on Hoechst fluorescence intensity and the ability to exclude the vital dye, propidium iodide. Subsequently, samples from the original mixture, the sorted BrdU+ cell population, and the sorted BrdU- cell population were immunostained using an anti-BrdU monoclonal antibody and evaluated using flow cytometry.
Results: Two mixtures consisting of approximately 55% and 69% BrdU+ cells were sorted into fractions consisting of greater than 93% BrdU+ cells and 92% BrdU- cells. The separated cell populations were maintained in vitro after sorting to demonstrate their viability.
Conclusions: Hoechst fluorescence intensity in combination with cell sorting is an effective tool to separate viable BrdU+ from viable BrdU- cells for further study. The separated cell populations were maintained in vitro after sorting to demonstrate their viability.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.