Evaluation of growth rate in adhering cell cultures using a simple colorimetric method

J Biochem Biophys Methods. 1988 May;16(1):63-73. doi: 10.1016/0165-022x(88)90104-2.


In this paper we present a simple colorimetric method for evaluating cell growth in adhering cell cultures. This technique is based on the staining of basophilic cellular compounds (mainly nucleic acids) with methylene blue. To check its reliability, we have compared the quantity of dye fixed by the cells with the number of cells released from the culture substratum by trypsinization, and with the total cellular protein content determined by the Lowry's method. In these experiments we have used human skin fibroblasts and human epithelial cells derived from the epithelium of the full-term umbilical cord. Like other alternative methods, the methylene blue colorimetric technique can be used in 96-well microplates and allows the rapid collection of large amounts of data. As an illustration, we report on the selection of optimal composition of culture medium for human skin fibroblasts.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Division
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Colorimetry*
  • Culture Media
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Fibroblasts / cytology*
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Methylene Blue
  • Staining and Labeling
  • Trypan Blue
  • Umbilical Cord


  • Culture Media
  • Trypan Blue
  • Methylene Blue