Evaluation of a Tetrazolium-based Semiautomated Colorimetric Assay: Assessment of Radiosensitivity

J. Carmichael, W. G. DeGraff, A. F. Gazdar, J. D. Minna, J. B. Mitchell

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650 Scopus citations


Radiation survival curves were generated for V79 Chinese hamster and two human lung cancer cell lines (NCI-H460 and NCI-H249) with doubling times of 10, 20, and 85 h, respectively, using a standard clonogenic assay, a dye exclusion assay, and a semiautomated colorimetric assay utilizing a tetrazolium salt, 3-(4, 5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2, 5-diphenyiformazan bromide. Comparable results for D0and extrapolation number (n) were observed for all assays in the lines with doubling times of 10 and 20 h. In these instances the tumor cell lines had undergone seven or more doublings after radiation. For the tumor line (H249) with an 80-h doubling time the D 0s were comparable between the assays while the extrapolation number was increased in the 3-(4, 5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2, 5-diphenylformazan bromide assay, a result probably related to the lower number of doublings (<4) after radiation. We then tested the ability of the assays to detect radiation protection and sensitization using known agents. We found that cysteamine treatment resulted in radioprotection (by a factor of 8 at 8 Gy) while 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine incorporation caused enhancement of radiation sensitivity in all three assays. We conclude that, while optimal conditions for each cell line (cell number plated and doubling time) must be established, using characterized tumor cell lines, the 3-(4, 5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2, 5-diphenylformazan bromide assay could be automated and thus be of great value in screening large numbers of potential radiosensitizers or protectors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)943-946
Number of pages4
JournalCancer research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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