Epithelial Cell Death Analysis of Cell Cycle by Flow Cytometry
Cells undergoing apoptosis display typical changes in their morphological and physical properties (cell shrinkage, condensation of chromatin and cytoplasm) which are well measurable by flow cytometry. Thus, a series of methods have been proposed for measuring apoptotic cell death through evaluation of light scattering parameters of cells. Interaction of a particle with the laser beam produces a light scatter in a forward direction (FSC that correlates with cell size) and a lateral direction (SSC that correlates with granularity and/or cell density). While necrotic death is characterized by a reduction in both FSC and SSC (probably due to a rupture of plasma membrane and leakage of the cell’s content), during apoptosis there is an initial increase in SSC (probably due to the chromatin condensation) with a reduction in FSC (due to the cell shrinkage). This pattern can be easily observed in some models of apoptosis, such as the apoptotic death induced by glucocorticoids in murine thymocytes but it is much less clear in other cell models (i.e. the majority of tumor cell lines).