Appraisal of the MTT-based assay as a useful tool for predicting drug chemosensitivity in leukemia

Leuk Lymphoma. 2003 Nov;44(11):1957-62. doi: 10.1080/1042819031000116607.


The MTT-based assay relies upon the cellular reduction of tetrazolium salts to their intensely colored formazans. The test is easy to perform in hematological malignancies and is adaptable for high throughput of samples, although there are some minor limitations in its application resulting from metabolic interference. This class of assays are highly accurate for predicting drug resistance, whereas their predictive value for drug sensitivity depends on the type of disease and drug or drug combination used. They have been found to predict clinical response to fludarabine FLD in B-CLL and were useful for predetermining clinical potential of a single drug or drug combination in AML patients. Extensive studies with ALL patients have supported their advantage for selecting effective drug treatment of the disease. To conclude, pretreatment chemosensitivity assays may help in the selection of chemotherapeutic drugs with the greatest likelihood for clinical effectiveness, and in the exclusion of uneffective therapy. This can lead to improved disease management, response, survival and use of financial resources.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor / methods*
  • Formazans*
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / diagnosis
  • Leukemia / drug therapy*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Tetrazolium Salts*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Formazans
  • Tetrazolium Salts
  • MTT formazan