UNIT 18.8 Flow Cytometry of Apoptosis

  1. Piotr Pozarowski1,
  2. Jerzy Grabarek2,
  3. Zbigniew Darzynkiewicz3

Published Online: 1 FEB 2004

DOI: 10.1002/0471143030.cb1808s21

Current Protocols in Cell Biology

Current Protocols in Cell Biology

How to Cite

Pozarowski, P., Grabarek, J. and Darzynkiewicz, Z. 2004. Flow Cytometry of Apoptosis. Current Protocols in Cell Biology. 21:18.8:18.8.1–18.8.33.

Author Information

  1. 1

    School of Medicine, Lublin, Poland

  2. 2

    Pomeranian School of Medicine, Szczecin, Poland

  3. 3

    New York Medical College, Valhalla, New York

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 FEB 2004
  2. Published Print: DEC 2003


Common methods applicable to flow cytometry make it possible to: (1) identify and quantify dead or dying cells, (2) reveal a mode of cell death (apoptosis or necrosis), and (3) study mechanisms involved in cell death. Gross changes in cell morphology and chromatin condensation, which occur during apoptosis, can be detected by analysis with laser light beam scattering. Early events of apoptosis, dissipation of the mitochondrial transmembrane potential and caspase activation, can be detected using either fluorochrome reporter groups or appropriate antibodies. Exposure of phosphatidylserine on the exterior surface of the plasma membrane can be detected by the binding of fluoresceinated annexin V. Another apoptotic event, DNA fragmentation based on DNA content of cells with fractional (“sub-G1”) or DNA strand-break labeling, TUNEL; or In Situ End Labeling, ISEL;. Still another hallmark of apoptosis is the activation of tissue transglutaminase (TGase), the enzyme that crosslinks protein and thereby makes them less immunogenic. The major advantage of flow cytometry in these applications is that it provides the possibility of multiparametric measurements of cell attributes.