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Differentiation. 2011 Mar;81(3):192-8. doi: 10.1016/j.diff.2010.12.001. Epub 2010 Dec 28.

Monitoring stem cell proliferation and differentiation in primary midgut cell cultures from Heliothis virescens larvae using flow cytometry.

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Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, University of Tennessee, 2431 Joe Johnson Drive, 205 Ellington Plant Sciences Building, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA.


In the midgut of Heliothis virescens larvae, proliferation and differentiation of stem cell populations allow for midgut growth and regeneration. Basic epithelial regenerative function can be assessed in vitro by purifying these two cell type populations, yet efficient high throughput methods to monitor midgut stem cell proliferation and differentiation are not available. We describe a flow cytometry method to differentiate stem from mature midgut cells and use it to monitor proliferation, differentiation and death in primary midgut stem cell cultures from H. virescens larvae. Our method is based on differential light scattering and vital stain fluorescence properties to distinguish between stem and mature midgut cells. Using this method, we monitored proliferation and differentiation of H. virescens midgut cells cultured in the presence of fetal bovine serum (FBS) or AlbuMAX II. Supplementation with FBS resulted in increased stem cell differentiation after 5 days of culture, while AlbuMAX II-supplemented medium promoted stem cell proliferation. These data demonstrate utility of our flow cytometry method for studying stem cell-based epithelial regeneration, and indicate that AlbuMAX II-supplemented medium may be used to maintain pluripotency in primary midgut stem cell cultures.

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