Measurement of Cell Death in Mammalian Cells

Curr Protoc. 2021 Aug;1(8):e210. doi: 10.1002/cpz1.210.


Methods for assessing mammalian cell death are presented in this article, which is divided into six sections: (1) a brief overview of cytotoxicity and pathways of cell death; (2) a method to measure cell death using lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release as a marker of membrane integrity; (3) a flow cytometry method that simultaneously measures two types of cell death, necrosis and apoptosis; (4) use of fluorescence microscopy and nuclear morphology to assess apoptosis and necrosis; (5) the use of multi-well plates and high-content analysis imaging systems to assess nuclear morphology; and (6) a discussion of the use of cytotoxicity assays to determine the mechanisms of cell death. © 2021 Wiley Periodicals LLC. Basic Protocol 1: Measurement of plasma membrane integrity and viability using LDH release Basic Protocol 2: Measurement of necrosis and apoptosis using flow cytometry Basic Protocol 3: Determination of nuclear morphology and membrane integrity Alternate Protocol 1: Assessment of nuclear morphology and membrane integrity using DAPI and PI Alternate Protocol 2: Assessment of nuclear morphology using multi-well plates Basic Protocol 4: Measurement of time-dependent toxicity using cell death markers.

Keywords: apoptosis; cytotoxicity; necrosis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Cell Death
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Necrosis