Comparison of trypan blue dye exclusion and fluorometric assays for mammalian cell viability determinations

Biotechnol Prog. 1993 Nov-Dec;9(6):671-4. doi: 10.1021/bp00024a017.


A hemocytometer-based trypan blue dye exclusion cell quantitation and viability assay was compared with a similar assay using simultaneous fluorometric staining with fluorescein diacetate and propidium iodide. Viable and nonviable cell densities were measured, and culture viability was calculated both during the normal growth cycle of a murine hybridoma and in response to the application of millimolar concentrations of either tert-butyl hydroperoxide or ferrous iron. During the early phase of rapid hybridoma cell growth, assay-based differences in viable cell density were not significant. As the culture aged, the trypan blue dye exclusion assay significantly overestimated cell viability, thereby underestimating nonviable cell density and yielding an erroneous estimation of the overall viability of the culture. Because of its lack of ambiguity in the identification of stained, nonviable cells and its resulting increased accuracy in the estimation of culture viability, the fluorometric assay was considered a better choice for the evaluation of cell viability.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biotechnology / methods*
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / methods
  • Ferrous Compounds / toxicity
  • Fluorometry / methods
  • Hybridomas / cytology
  • Hybridomas / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Peroxides / toxicity
  • Trypan Blue*
  • tert-Butylhydroperoxide


  • Ferrous Compounds
  • Peroxides
  • tert-Butylhydroperoxide
  • Trypan Blue