Cell Proliferation

Cell proliferation is a process where cells grow and divide in order to replenish cells that have died. In heathy tissue the process is tightly controlled such that the growth of more cells is balanced against cell loss such that the overall number of cells in an organism remains unchanged. The process control is provided by the cell cycle where cells pass through a number of phases with checkpoints which serve to ensure that functional daughter cells are produced during mitosis (Figure 1). A hallmark of cancer is dysregulation of the cell cycle which leads to an imbalance of cell growth. This typically arises as a single cell is genetically mutated such that checkpoints are ignored. That cell will pass on the mutation to its daughter cells such that uncontrolled cell proliferation results in the formation of tumors and other physiological aspects of cancer. Thus cell proliferation assays are a key tool in oncology research and drug discovery labs looking for cures for cancer.

There are many commercial kits available to measure cell proliferation. As examples, there are those that monitor DNA synthesis by the use of either a radioactive label (3[H]-thymidine uptake) or immunofluorescence (anti-BrdU monoclonal antibody); or those that monitor the metabolic activity of a population of cells by the reduction of substrates to highly colored salts (Alamar Blue or MTT). Each of these have various weaknesses such as the safety and disposal concerns of using radioactive labels, the impact of using fluorescence probes which may interfere with normal cellular processes, or only offer endpoint type assays. A preferred method has none of these weaknesses, but instead uses live cell kinetic imaging, where cells are quantified using either confluence measurements or individual cells counted without the use of labels and cell health in maintained throughout the experiment which may last several days. While BioTek instrumentation can be used for all these types of cell proliferation assays, our cell imagers Lionheart™ FX or the BioSpa™ 8 Automated Incubator and Cytation™ Cell Imaging Multi-Mode Reader provide all these attributes of label-free live cell kinetic imaging with walk-away automation.

% Confluence: Label-free
label-free confluence

Cell counting: Label-free
label-free cell counting



Application Notes:


Technical Note:


Visual Abstracts:

BioTek’s Visual Abstracts are brief animated presentations describing the Augmented Microscopy workflow of a specific application.

Cell Proliferation
Cell Proliferation - Label-free Cell Counting

Cell Proliferation
Cell Proliferation - Label-free Confluence

 T cell activation visual abstract
Image-Based Tracking and Quantification
of T Cell Activation


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Learn more about Cell Proliferation applications - search our Application Notes and technical documentation in Resources.


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