Annexin V binding assay as a tool to measure apoptosis in differentiated neuronal cells

J Neurosci Methods. 1998 Dec 31;86(1):63-9. doi: 10.1016/s0165-0270(98)00147-2.


We describe a rapid and reliable method to quantitate the extent of apoptosis in neuronal cell cultures. Based on their annexin V-affinity, resulting from phosphatidylserine (PS) exposure at the outer leaflet of the plasma membrane, apoptotic cells can be distinguished from annexin V-negative living cells, by using microscopic and flow cytometric procedures. When combined with propidium iodide (PI) the double labeling procedure allows a further distinction of necrotic (annexin V+/PI+), apoptotic (annexin V+/PI-) cells. Furthermore, when the cells are incubated with annexin V prior to harvesting, the former cell populations can be separated from cells damaged during isolation (annexin V-/PI+). In the present paper, we show that the annexin V-binding assay is also applicable to differentiated neuronal cells with fragile neurite outgrowths.

MeSH terms

  • Annexin A5 / metabolism*
  • Apoptosis* / genetics
  • Apoptosis* / physiology
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Flow Cytometry / methods*
  • Humans
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Purines / metabolism
  • Roscovitine
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Annexin A5
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Purines
  • Roscovitine