Measuring apoptosis at the single cell level

Methods. 2008 Mar;44(3):222-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2007.11.007.


The use of live cell microscopy has made a number of contributions to the study of apoptosis. Many of the tools and techniques are available that allow us to image the key events that occur during cell death including mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization, mitochondrial transmembrane potential changes, translocation of Bcl-2 family members, caspase activation, phosphatidylserine flip and plasma membrane rupture. We discuss these techniques here and highlight the advantages and drawbacks of using such approaches to study apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane Permeability
  • Cytochromes c / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Membrane Potential, Mitochondrial
  • Microscopy
  • Research Design


  • Cytochromes c
  • Caspases