Cellular assays or cell-based assays are essential tools for studying cellular mechanisms in live cells. Many cellular assays are designed and optimized for identifying or quantifying a specific response to an external stimulus. Assays can be divided into few categories depending upon the sample type: ligand-binding assays that measures binding between a ligand and a receptor, immunoassays that detect antigen-antibody binding, and bioassays that measures biological activity in response to certain stimuli. Cell based assays provides a hand-full of information and are valuable tool in drug discovery and application. (2)

Commonly used assays:

CELL VIABILITY ASSAYS : determines the ratio of live and dead cells. The parameters that determine the cell viability can be variable such as redox potential of cell population, integrity of cell membranes or activity of cellular enzymes. (1)

CYTOTOXICITY ASSAYS: assess the number of live and dead cell ins. A population following treatment with a drug or pharmacological agent under the study. (1)

CELL DEATH ASSAYS: apoptosis is essential for development, homeostasis, and pathogenesis of various diseases such as cancer, they can be controlled in response to extrinsic or intrinsic signals. The mark of apoptotic cell death includes disruption of mitochondrial membrane, cell shrinkage, DNA fragmentation and condensation. Whereas necrosis can be identified by cell swelling and destruction of plasma membrane and subcellular organelles. However, selective degradation of intracellular targets such as protein misfolding and damaged organelles can be characterized for autophagy. (1)

CELL PROLIFERATION ASSAYS: cell proliferation is a biological process of cells increasing in number over the time through cell division. It plays a vital role in regular tissue and cellular homeostasis for growth and development of organism. Proliferation assays keeps in count the growth rate of cell population. (1)

Thus, optimized cellular assays can be used to visualization and characteristics of cellular mechanisms.


1. What are the different types of cell-based assays? Arun kumar, Enzo life sciences, review article.

2. Cellular assays, antibodies-online.com, review