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Concept: Formazan


Although MTT is widely used to assess cytotoxicity and cell viability, the precise localization of its reduced formazan product is still unclear. In the present study the localization of MTT formazan was studied by direct microscopic observation of living HeLa cells and by colocalization analysis with organelle-selective fluorescent probes. MTT formazan granules did not colocalize with mitochondria as revealed by rhodamine 123 labeling or autofluorescence. Likewise, no colocalization was observed between MTT formazan granules and lysosomes labeled by neutral red. Taking into account the lipophilic character and lipid solubility of MTT formazan, an evaluation of the MTT reaction was performed after treatment of cells with sunflower oil emulsions to induce a massive occurrence of lipid droplets. Under this condition, lipid droplets revealed a large amount of MTT formazan deposits. Kinetic studies on the viability of MTT-treated cells showed no harmful effects at short times. Quantitative structure-activity relations (QSAR) models were used to predict and explain the localization of both the MTT tetrazolium salt and its formazan product. These predictions were in agreement with experimental observations on the accumulation of MTT formazan product in lipid droplets.

Concepts: Scientific method, Adenosine triphosphate, Cell biology, Observation, Cytotoxicity, Hypothesis, MTT assay, Formazan


Tetrazolium salts (TTZ), such as tetrazolium violet (TV), have been widely used for microbiological studies. The formation of the colored formazan product due to bacterial reduction of the uncolored reagent is extensively exploited to stain cells or colonies in agar or on filters. But an important toxic effect of tetrazolium salts on bacteria exists that limits their use at high concentrations, impairing the efficient staining of the colonies. This is especially the case for Salmonella spp. where we observed, using a classic photometric approach and mathematical modeling of the growth, an important impact of tetrazolium violet on the apparent growth rate below the inhibitory concentration. In this study, we demonstrate that adding magnesium to the medium in the presence of TV leads to a significant increase in the apparent growth rate. Moreover, when higher TV concentrations are used which lead to total inhibition of Salmonella strains, magnesium addition to the culture media allows growth and TV reduction. This effect of magnesium may allow the use of higher TTZ concentrations in liquid growth media and enhance bacteria detection capabilities.

Concepts: Bacteria, Microbiology, Yeast, Agar, Agar plate, Growth medium, Formazan, Neutral red


In French Guiana, leishmaniasis is an essentially cutaneous infection. It constitutes a major public health problem, with a real incidence of 0.2 to 0.3%. Leishmania guyanensis is the causal species most frequently encountered in French Guiana.The treatment of leishmaniasis is essentially drug-based, but the therapeutic compounds available have major side effects (e.g. liver damage, diabetes) and must be administered parenterally or are costly. The efficacy of some of these agents has declined due to the emergence of resistance in certain strains of Leishmania. There is currently no vaccine against leishmaniasis, and it is therefore both necessary and urgent to identify new compounds effective against Leishmania.The search for new drugs requires effective tests for evaluations of the leishmanicidal activity of a particular molecule or extract. Microculture Tetrazolium Assays (MTAs) are colorimetric tests based on the use of tetrazolium salts. We compared the efficacies of three tetrazolium salts - MTT, XTT and WST-8 - for quantification of the promastigotes of various species of Leishmania. We found that the capacity of Leishmania to metabolize a tetrazolium salt depended on the salt used and the species of Leishmania. WST-8 was the tetrazolium salt best metabolized by L. guyanensis and gave the best sensitivity.

Concepts: Ammonia, Molecule, Effectiveness, Efficacy, MTT assay, Cutaneous leishmaniasis, French Guiana, Formazan


Eucalyptus is one of the most important and highly exploited genus in family Myrtaceae. An UPLC/PDA/ESI-qTOF-MS method was adopted to identify Eucalyptus sideroxylon Cunn. ex Woolls leaves phytoconstituents. Cytotoxicity of E. sideroxylon leaves phloroglucinol-rich extract (PGRE) on VERO cells was determined. The antiviral effect of PGRE against hepatitis A (HAV), herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-I), herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-II), coxsackie (CoxB4), and adenoviruses was in vitro evaluated using MTT assay (3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide). UPLC-MS analysis allowed the identification of 70 metabolites including: 26 triterpenes, 13 phloroglucinols, 8 fatty acids, 5 flavonoids, 5 oleuropeic acid glucosides, 3 gallic acid derivatives, and 10 miscellaneous. Twenty four metabolites identified in the leaves of E. sideroxylon and four in the genus Eucalyptus are reported herein for the first time. PGRE was found to be non-cytotoxic; the concentration that reduced the cell viability by 50% (CC50) was 0.808mg/mL. Maximum non-toxic concentration (MNTC) of PGRE on Vero cells was 0.312mg/mL. The best antiviral activity was observed against HSV-II. Its mechanism was through decreasing the viral replication (IC50 189.36μg/mL, 87.65% inhibition) and attachment on Vero cells (IC50 199.34μg/mL, 83.13% inhibition) rather than virucidal effect (IC50 293.1μg/mL, 50.68% inhibition). This study provides a complete map for E. sideroxylon leaves composition. It also suggests the plant as a source of new antiviral agents.

Concepts: Virus, Hepatitis, Eucalyptus, Herpes simplex, Cytotoxicity, Hepatitis B, MTT assay, Formazan


Copper is essential for numerous physiological functions, and copper compounds may display therapeutic as well as cytotoxic effects. The MTT (3-(4,5-dimethyl-2-thiazolyl)-2,5-diphenyl-2H-tetrazolium bromide) assay is a standard test largely used in cytotoxicity studies. This report shows that low micromolar levels of copper compounds such as Cu(II)Urea2, Cu(II)Ser2 and CuCl2 can interfere with the MTT assay making improper the detection of formazan product of MTT reduction. Comparatively, the Neutral Red assay appears to be sensitive and showing no interference with these compounds. The lactate dehydrogenase alternative assay cannot be used because of inhibitory effect of these copper compounds on the enzyme activity.

Concepts: Cell, Enzyme, Effect, Cytotoxicity, MTT assay, Interference, Co-channel interference, Formazan


This work reports the first results obtained using a new 3D radiochromic gel dosimeter. The dosimeter is an aqueous physical gel matrix made of poly(ethylene oxide)-block-poly(propylene oxide)-block-poly(ethylene oxide) (Pluronic F-127, PEO-PPO-PEO) doped with a representative of tetrazolium salts, 2,3,5-triphenyltetrazolium chloride (TTC). There were several reasons for the choice of Pluronic as a gel forming substrate: i) the high degree of transparency and colourlessness; ii) the possibility of gel dosimeter preparation at both high and low temperatures due to the phase behaviour of Pluronic; iii) the broad temperature range over which the TTC-Pluronic dosimeter is stable; and iv) the non-toxicity of Pluronic. A reason for the choice of TTC was its ionising radiation-induced transformation to water-insoluble formazan, which was assumed to impact beneficially on the spatial stability of the dose distribution. If irradiated, the TTC-Pluronic gels become red but transparent in the irradiated part, while the non-irradiated part remains crystal clear. The best obtained composition is characterised by < 4 Gy dose threshold, a dose sensitivity of 0.0023 1/(Gy × s), a large linear dose range of > 500 Gy and a dynamic dose response much greater than 500 Gy (7.5% TTC, 25% Pluronic F-127, 50 mmol/dm3 tetrakis). Temporal and spatial stability studies revealed that the TTC-Pluronic gels (7.5% TTC, 25% Pluronic F-127) were stable for more than one week. The addition of compounds boosting the gels' dose performance caused deterioration of the gels' temporal stability but did not impact the stability of the 3D dose distribution. The proposed method of preparation allows for the repeatable manufacture of the gels. There were no differences observed between gels irradiated fractionally and non-fractionally. The TTC-Pluronic dose response might be affected by the radiation source dose rate - this, however, requires further examination.

Concepts: Ionizing radiation, Food irradiation, Radiation therapy, Gel electrophoresis, Temperature, Radiobiology, MTT assay, Formazan


Objective: To evaluate the effect of platelet-rich fibrin extract (PRFe) on the adhesion, proliferation and differentiation of MC3T3-E1 cells cultured on the titanium discs. Methods: Samples were divided into experimental group (P) and control group (D). Group P used the α-minimal essential medium (α-MEM) containing PRFe (0.5%), while group D used only the α-MEM. Cell adhesion and cytoskeleton were observed using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and laser scanning confocal microscopy (LSCM). Methyl thiazolyl tetrazolium (MTT) assay to detect the number of the osteoblasts at 1, 3, 5, 7 d; the activity of alkaline phosphatase (ALP) to detect the differentiation of osteoblast at 1, 3, 5, 7 d; the level of osteogenetic biomarkers core-binding factorα1 (cbfα1) and osteocalcin (OCN) were quantified by quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) at 3 and 7 d. Results: SEM and LSCM showed that the adhesion and filaments of group P were higher than those of group D at each time point. MTT assay showed that the absorbance were significantly increased in group P (1 d: 0.299±0.002, 3 d: 0.517±0.004, 5 d: 0.810±0.002, 7 d: 1.203±0.011) compared with group D (1 d: 0.198±0.003, 3 d: 0.399±0.002, 5 d: 0.588±0.002, 7 d: 0.897±0.005) at each time points (P<0.05). Furthermore, the ALP activity of group P (1 d: 0.162±0.004, 3 d: 0.289±0.001, 5 d: 0.491±0.006, 7 d: 0.647±0.005) was significantly higher than that of group D (1 d: 0.121±0.003, 3 d: 0.191± 0.006, 5 d: 0.252±0.004, 7 d: 0.365±0.012), (P<0.05). Moreover, the qRT-PCR showed that the Cbfα1 and OCN gene expression in group P (Cfbα1, 3 d: 1.50±0.04, 7 d: 1.94±0.06; OCN, 3 d: 3.37±0.17, 7 d: 3.92± 0.04) were significantly higher than that in group D(Cfbα1, 3 d: 1, 7 d: 1.18±0.13; OCN, 3 d: 1, 7 d: 2.34± 0.09) (P<0.05). Conclusions: PRFe promoted the adhension, proliferation and differentiation of MC3T3-E1 cells on the titanium discs.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Gene expression, Polymerase chain reaction, MTT assay, Scanning electron microscope, Formazan


DNA staining in gels has historically been carried out using silver staining and fluorescent dyes like ethidium bromide and SYBR Green I (SGI). Using fluorescent dyes allows recovery of the analyte, but requires instruments such as a transilluminator or fluorimeter to visualize the DNA. Here we described a new and simple method that allows DNA visualization to the naked eye by generating a colored precipitate. It works by soaking the acrylamide or agarose DNA gel in SGI and nitro blue tetrazolium (NBT) solution that, when exposed to sunlight, produces a purple insoluble formazan precipitate that remains in the gel after exposure to light. A calibration curve made with a DNA standard established a detection limit of approximately 60 pg/band at 500 bp. Selectivity of this assay was determined using different biomolecules, demonstrating a high selectivity for DNA. Integrity and functionality of the DNA recovered from gels was determined by enzymatic cutting with a restriction enzyme and by transforming competent cells after the different staining methods, respectively. Our method showed the best performance among the dyes employed. Based on its specificity, low cost and its adequacy for field work, this new methodology has enormous potential benefits to research and industry.

Concepts: DNA, Restriction enzyme, Molecular biology, Enzyme, Gel electrophoresis, Ethidium bromide, Agarose gel electrophoresis, Formazan


Formazan-based colorimetric cytotoxicity assays, such as the MTT assay, are typically used to assess cell viability with only metabolically active cells reducing tetrazolium salts into the formazans, which is then quantified by absorbance. Fluorescence offers several advantages compared to colorimetric assays and would enable techniques such as flow cytometry and confocal microscopy to be used for analysis. Here, fluorescent formazans 10, 11 and 12, and their corresponding tetrazolium salts 13, 16 and 24, respectively, were synthesised by incorporation of a known fluorophore backbone (coumarin, fluorescein and rhodol) with disruption of the conjugated system preventing or reducing fluorescence of the tetrazolium salts. The tetrazolium moiety was able to quench the fluorescence of the incorporated fluorescein and O-methyl rhodol, whereas with the coumarin-based tetrazolium salt the fluorescence was only quenched under acidic conditions. These tetrazolium salts were successfully reduced to the fluorescent formazans with cells and offer a step forward in the development of fluorescent cytotoxicity assays.

Concepts: Fluorescence, Flow cytometry, Cytotoxicity, Carbonyl, MTT assay, Fluorescein, Fluorescence microscope, Formazan


Several tests are available for assessing the viability of cells; however, there is a dearth of studies comparing the results obtained with each test. We compared the capability of four viability assays (3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide (MTT), neutral red, trypan blue and live/dead fluorescence), to detect potential toxicity in fibroblasts irradiated with 470nm blue light.

Concepts: Comparison, Fibroblast, Light, Color, Cytotoxicity, MTT assay, Comparisons, Formazan