The fluorometric microculture cytotoxicity assay

Nat Protoc. 2008;3(8):1364-9. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2008.114.


The fluorometric microculture cytotoxicity assay (FMCA) is a nonclonogenic microplate-based cell viability assay used for measurement of the cytotoxic and/or cytostatic effect of different compounds in vitro. The assay is based on hydrolysis of the probe, fluorescein diacetate (FDA) by esterases in cells with intact plasma membranes. The assay is available as both a semiautomated 96-well plate setup and a 384-well plate version fully adaptable to robotics. Experimental plates are prepared with a small amount of drug solution and can be stored frozen. Cells are seeded on the plates and cell viability is evaluated after 72 h. The protocol described here is applicable both for cell lines and freshly prepared tumor cells from patients and is suitable both for screening in drug development and as a basis for a predictive test for individualization of anticancer drug therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / toxicity*
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival
  • Cisplatin / toxicity
  • Cytotoxins / toxicity*
  • Doxorubicin / toxicity
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor / methods*
  • Etoposide / toxicity
  • Fluoresceins / analysis
  • Fluorometry / methods
  • Fluorouracil / toxicity
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Toxicity Tests / methods*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cytotoxins
  • Fluoresceins
  • Etoposide
  • Doxorubicin
  • Cisplatin
  • Fluorouracil
  • diacetylfluorescein