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A high-throughput direct cell counting imaging cytometry method for natural killer cell-mediated cytotoxicity detection


Cytotoxicity assays play a central role in studying the function of immune effect or cells such as cytolytic T lymphocytes (CTL) and natural killer (NK) cells. Traditionally, cytotoxicity assays have been performed using 51Chromium (51Cr) and Calcein release assays. The assays involve labeling tumor cells (target) with radio isotope or fluorescent dyes, when the target cells are subjected to cytolysis by CTLs or NK cells (effector), they release the entrapped labels into the media upon lysis. The amount of labels in the media is measured to determine the level of cytotoxicity the effectors have induced. These traditional methods may generate inconsistent results due to low sensitivity caused by poor loading efficiency and high spontaneous release of the reagents. In this work, we demonstrate a novel cytotoxicity assay using the Celigo® imaging cytometry method. Utilizing imaging cytometry, direct cell counting of live fluorescent target cells can be performed, which is a direct method for assessment of cytotoxicity. Human NK cells from one healthy donor were used as effectors, and K562 (suspension) and IMR32 (adherent) were used as the target cells. Both target cells were first stained with Calcein AM, and seeded at 10,000cells/well in a standard 96-well microplate. The donor NK
Cells were then added to each well at Effector-to-Target (E:T) ratios 10:1, 5:1, 2.5:1, 1.25:1, 0.625:1, and 0.3125:1. The 96 well plate was then scanned and analysed using Celigo® imaging cytometer att = 1, 2, 3,and 4 h to measure the % lysis of target cells. The results showed increasing % lysis as incubation time and E:T ratio increased. The proposed Celigo® imaging cytometry is an accurate and simple method for direct quantification of cytotoxicity, which can be an attractive method for both academic and clinical research.

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