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J Biomol Screen. 2011 Jul;16(6):575-87. doi: 10.1177/1087057111402825. Epub 2011 Apr 25.

The use of real-time cell analyzer technology in drug discovery: defining optimal cell culture conditions and assay reproducibility with different adherent cellular models.

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UCB Pharma SA, Nonclinical Development, Chemin du Foriest, Belgium.


The use of impedance-based label-free technology applied to drug discovery is nowadays receiving more and more attention. Indeed, such a simple and noninvasive assay that interferes minimally with cell morphology and function allows one to perform kinetic measurements and to obtain information on proliferation, migration, cytotoxicity, and receptor-mediated signaling. The objective of the study was to further assess the usefulness of a real-time cell analyzer (RTCA) platform based on impedance in the context of quality control and data reproducibility. The data indicate that this technology is useful to determine the best coating and cellular density conditions for different adherent cellular models including hepatocytes, cardiomyocytes, fibroblasts, and hybrid neuroblastoma/neuronal cells. Based on 31 independent experiments, the reproducibility of cell index data generated from HepG2 cells exposed to DMSO and to Triton X-100 was satisfactory, with a coefficient of variation close to 10%. Cell index data were also well reproduced when cardiomyocytes and fibroblasts were exposed to 21 compounds three times (correlation >0.91, p < 0.0001). The data also show that a cell index decrease is not always associated with cytotoxicity effects and that there are some confounding factors that can affect the analysis. Finally, another drawback is that the correlation analysis between cellular impedance measurements and classical toxicity endpoints has been performed on a limited number of compounds. Overall, despite some limitations, the RTCA technology appears to be a powerful and reliable tool in drug discovery because of the reasonable throughput, rapid and efficient performance, technical optimization, and cell quality control.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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