Sulforhodamine B assay and chemosensitivity

Methods Mol Med. 2005;110:39-48. doi: 10.1385/1-59259-869-2:039.


The sulforhodamine B (SRB) assay was developed by Skehan and colleagues to measure drug-induced cytotoxicity and cell proliferation for large-scale drug-screening applications. Its principle is based on the ability of the protein dye sulforhodamine B to bind electrostatically and pH dependent on protein basic amino acid residues of trichloroacetic acid-fixed cells. Under mild acidic conditions it binds to and under mild basic conditions it can be extracted from cells and solubilized for measurement. Results of the SRB assay were linear with cell number and cellular protein measured at cellular densities ranging from 1 to 200% of confluence. Its sensitivity is comparable with that of several fluorescence assays and superior to that of Lowry or Bradford. The signal-to-noise ratio is favorable and the resolution is 1000-2000 cells/well. It performed similarly compared to other cytotoxicity assays such as MTT or clonogenic assay. The SRB assay possesses a colorimetric end point and is nondestructive and indefinitely stable. These practical advances make the SRB assay an appropriate and sensitive assay to measure drug-induced cytotoxicity even at large-scale application.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor / methods*
  • Fixatives
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Humans
  • Rhodamines*
  • Trichloroacetic Acid


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Fixatives
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Rhodamines
  • lissamine rhodamine B
  • Trichloroacetic Acid