Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology

, Volume 64, Issue 3, pp 629–633

MTT assays cannot be utilized to study the effects of STI571/Gleevec on the viability of solid tumor cell lines

Short Communication

DOI: 10.1007/s00280-009-1004-y

Cite this article as:
Sims, J.T. & Plattner, R. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol (2009) 64: 629. doi:10.1007/s00280-009-1004-y



This study will determine whether MTT assays accurately assess the effect of STI571 (Gleevec; Abl kinase inhibitor) on the viability of cancer cells containing highly active Abl kinases.


Growth kinetics, tritiated thymidine, fluorescent caspase, MTT, and Cell Titer Glo (CTG) assays were used to determine the effect of STI571 on growth, proliferation, apoptosis, and viability of melanoma and breast cancer cells.


STI571 inhibited growth and proliferation, and increased apoptosis. However, MTT assays indicated that STI571 increased cell viability. In contrast, STI571 induced a dose-dependent decrease in viability using CTG assays.


Doses of STI571 (1–10 μM) required to inhibit endogenous Abl kinases interfere with the MTT assay, and therefore MTT cannot be used to determine the effect of STI571 on viability using these doses. Additionally, caution should be utilized when interpreting the results of MTT assays used to screen kinase inhibitors for anti-cancer activity, as drug effectiveness may be minimized.


STI571 Gleevec Abl MTT Cell Titer Glo (CTG) Viability 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Molecular and Biomedical PharmacologyUniversity of Kentucky School of MedicineLexingtonUSA

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