Cell Sensitivity Assays: The MTT Assay

  • Johan van Meerloo
  • Gertjan J. L. Kaspers
  • Jacqueline CloosEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 731)


The MTT (3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5 diphenyl tetrazolium bromide) assay is based on the conversion of MTT into formazan crystals by living cells, which determines mitochondrial activity. Since for most cell populations the total mitochondrial activity is related to the number of viable cells, this assay is broadly used to measure the in vitro cytotoxic effects of drugs on cell lines or primary patient cells. In this chapter the protocol of the assay is described including important considerations relevant for each step of the assay as well as its limitations and possible applications.

Key words

MTT 3-[4,5-Dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5 diphenyl tetrazolium bromide Viability assay IC50 LC50 Drug sensitivity assay Cytotoxicity assay 



This work was supported by KiKa “Stichting Kinderen Kankervrij” – Dutch Children Cancer-free foundation and VONK “VUmc Onderzoek Naar Kinderkanker” foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johan van Meerloo
  • Gertjan J. L. Kaspers
  • Jacqueline Cloos
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Paediatric OncologyVU University Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of HaematologyVU University Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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