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Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz
Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Fiocruz
ISSN: 1678-8060
EISSN: 1678-8060
Vol. 95, No. 3, 2000, pp. 429-433
Bioline Code: oc00068
Full paper language: English
Document type: Research Article
Document available free of charge

Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Vol. 95, No. 3, 2000, pp. 429-433

 en Flow Cytometry in the Study of Cell Death
lvaro L Bertho; Marta A Santiago & Srgio G Coutinho


In this report we present a concise review concerning the use of flow cytometric methods to characterize and differentiate between two different mechanisms of cell death, apoptosis and necrosis. The applications of these techniques to clinical and basic research are also considered. The following cell features are useful to characterize the mode of cell death: (1) activation of an endonuclease in apoptotic cells results in extraction of the low molecular weight DNA following cell permeabilization, which, in turn, leads to their decreased stainability with DNA-specific fluorochromes. Measurements of DNA content make it possible to identify apoptotic cells and to recognize the cell cycle phase specificity of apoptotic process; (2) plasma membrane integrity, which is lost in necrotic but not in apoptotic cells; (3) the decrease in forward light scatter, paralleled either by no change or an increase in side scatter, represent early changes during apoptosis. The data presented indicate that flow cytometry can be applied to basic research of the molecular and biochemical mechanisms of apoptosis, as well as in the clinical situations, where the ability to monitor early signs of apoptosis in some systems may be predictive for the outcome of some treatment protocols.

apoptosis, flow cytometry, cell death, necrosis

© Copyright 2000 Fundacao Oswaldo Cruz Fiocruz
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