Validation of the MTT dye assay for enumeration of cells in proliferative and antiproliferative assays

B. E. Loveland, T. G. Johns, L. R. Mackay, F. Vaillant, Z. X. Wang, P. J. Hertzog

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    83 Citations (Scopus)


    Increasing use is being made of colorimetric assays to quantitate viable cells, e.g., the cellular reduction of the tetrazolium salt, MTT, to formazan by mitochondrial succinate dehydrogenase. We validated this assay for cell proliferation in mixed lymphocyte cultures as compared with 3H-thymidine uptake, and for inhibition of cell proliferation induced by interferon with results compared by direct cell counting. We also found that cells do not, as previously assumed, require functional mitochondria: there were no differences in formazan production by normal cells or respiratory defective cells in which mitochondria had been poisoned by the nucleic acid toxin, ethidium bromide. The high reproducibility of MTT metabolism by lymphoblasts and various cultured cell lines establishes the reliability and versatility of this method for quantitating cell numbers.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)501-510
    Number of pages10
    JournalBiochemistry International
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1992

    Cite this