Estimation of PC12 cell numbers with acid phosphatase assay and mitochondrial dehydrogenase assay: dopamine interferes with assay based on tetrazolium

Abstract

 Both the acid-phosphatase and mitochondrial dehydrogenase assay have been used to quantify cell numbers. The commonly used acid-phosphatase assay uses p-nitrophenyl phosphate as a substrate, while the mitochondrial dehydrogenase assay is based on the conversion of tetrazolium to formazan. Our experimental results showed that the former assay was more sensitive in detecting small numbers of PC12 cells (200–10 000 cells/ well), whereas the latter was useful for larger numbers of cells (2000–40 000 cells/well). The number of PC12 cells decreased after dopamine treatment, according to the acid-phosphatase assay and by direct cell counts under a light microscope. However, the optical densities measured by the mitochondrial dehydrogenase assay increased after dopamine treatment. We tried to clarify discrepancies between the two assays, since dopamine is an important neurotransmitter and both assays are commonly used to estimate cell numbers. To elucidate the interference between dopamine and tetrazolium salt, cell-free control experiments were performed. Dopamine and other catecholamines (adrenaline and noradrenaline) reacted with tetrazolium and, thus, produced a false positive reaction in the assay. We therefore conclude that the tetrazolium assay is not a suitable method for evaluating the number of catecholamine-treated cells, while the acid-phosphatase assay is reliable and sensitive.

DOI: 10.1007/s002210050608

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Cite this paper

@article{Si1999EstimationOP, title={Estimation of PC12 cell numbers with acid phosphatase assay and mitochondrial dehydrogenase assay: dopamine interferes with assay based on tetrazolium}, author={Fengqin Si and Seon Ho Shin and Alyson J Biedermann and Gregory M Ross}, journal={Experimental Brain Research}, year={1999}, volume={124}, pages={145-150} }