Dynamic monitoring of cytotoxicity on microelectronic sensors

Chem Res Toxicol. 2005 Feb;18(2):154-61. doi: 10.1021/tx049721s.


A real-time cell electronic sensing (RT-CES) system was used for label-free, dynamic measurement of cell responses to cytotoxicants. Cells were grown onto the surfaces of microelectronic sensors, which are comprised of circle-on-line electrode arrays and are integrated into the bottom surfaces of the microtiter plate. Changes in cell status such as cell number, viability, morphology, and adherence were monitored and quantified by detecting sensor electrical impedance. For cell quantification and viability measurement, the data generated on the RT-CES system correlated well with those from the colorimetric (MTT) assay. For cytotoxicity assessment, cells growing on microelectronic sensors were treated with different cytotoxicants, such as arsenic, mercury, and sodium dichromate. The dynamic responses of the cells to the toxicants were continuously monitored by the RT-CES system. On the basis of the IC50 values, the RT-CES system displays an equal sensitivity to the neutral red uptake assay at specific time points. Furthermore, because the RT-CES system provides real-time information regarding the state of cell morphology and adhesion in addition to cell number, we were able to discern a previously unreported effect of arsenic on NIH 3T3 cells prior to cell death. Also, using the RT-CES system, we were able to monitor cytotoxicity effects that occur within a minute of compound addition. Taken together, the RT-CES system allows for real-time, continuous monitoring and quantitative recording of the whole assay process and provides new insight into the cell-toxicant interaction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arsenites / toxicity*
  • Biosensing Techniques / instrumentation*
  • CHO Cells
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cricetinae
  • Electrochemistry
  • Mice
  • Microelectrodes
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Time Factors


  • Arsenites
  • arsenite