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J Infect Dis. 1985 Nov;152(5):938-45.

A rapid colorimetric assay of fungal viability with the tetrazolium salt MTT.


A rapid colorimetric assay for viability of fungi that uses the tetrazolium salt MTT is described. All live species of a wide range of medically important fungi that were tested reduced MTT, with resultant intracellular formation within several hours of clearly visible purple crystals of MTT-formazan. The assay proved particularly useful in measuring viability of individual hyphae; greater than 99% of live Aspergillus fumigatus and Rhizopus oryzae hyphae stained purple when incubated with MTT compared with 0% of hyphae killed by any of a variety of methods. The MTT method for measuring fungal viability closely correlated with a slide-culture technique when killing of A. fumigatus hyphae by graded concentrations of hydrogen peroxide was compared. MTT-formazan was easily extracted from the fungi by alcohol, a procedure allowing spectrophotometric quantification of fungal killing in both cell-free and cellular systems. A linear relation between inocula and MTT reduction of several fungi, including Candida albicans blastospores and A. fumigatus hyphae, was demonstrated. Human leukocytes killed 80.3% of C. albicans blastospores as measured by the MTT assay, compared with 70.5% as measured by dilutions and pour plates. Killing of A. fumigatus hyphae by human leukocytes was also quantitated by using the MTT assay.

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