• Stem cells;
  • High-content screening;
  • High-throughput screening;
  • Drug screening;
  • Image-based screening;
  • Cell-based assay


High-throughput screening (HTS) is a technology widely used for early stages of drug discovery in pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Recent hardware and software improvements have enabled HTS to be used in combination with subcellular resolution microscopy, resulting in cell image-based HTS, called high-content screening (HCS). HCS allows the acquisition of deeper knowledge at a single-cell level such that more complex biological systems can be studied in a high-throughput manner. The technique is particularly well-suited for stem cell research and drug discovery, which almost inevitably require single-cell resolutions for the detection of rare phenotypes in heterogeneous cultures. With growing availability of facilities, instruments, and reagent libraries, small-to-moderate scale HCS can now be carried out in regular academic labs. We envision that the HCS technique will play an increasing role in both basic mechanism study and early-stage drug discovery on stem cells. Here, we review the development of HCS technique and its past application on stem cells and discuss possible future developments. Stem Cells2012;30:1800–1807