A stable propidium iodide staining procedure for flow cytometry

A. D. Deitch, H. Law, Ralph W deVere White

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125 Scopus citations


A propidium iodide (PI) staining procedure is described in which 50 μg/ml PI in 10-2 M Tris, pH 7.0, with 5 mM MgCl2 is used to stain murine erythroleukemia cells (MELC) grown in suspension culture as well as single cell suspensions derived from rat kidney adenocarcinoma and human prostatic carcinoma. Specificity of staining of nuclear DNA is achieved by enzymatic removal of RNA using RNAse in the staining solution. Virtually identical histograms, with the same G1 peak height and closely similar coefficients of variation (CVs), are obtained using a wide range of RNAse concentrations on replicate samples of MELC if the incubation times are sufficiently prolonged when employing the lower enzyme concentrations. For 1 mg/ml RNAse on logarithmically growing MELC, 30 min incubation at 37°C is needed to obtain a maximum G1 peak height and optimal CV and there is no significant change in the histogram if the incubation is prolonged to 4 hr. For every 4-fold decrease in RNAse concentration, the incubation time at 37°C must be doubled to obtain the same maximal G1 peak height and optimal CV. Unfixed cell preparations, whether derived from suspension or monolayer cultures or from solid tumors, are stable for 2 or more weeks if stored at 4°C between flow cytometric analyses and histograms are usually only minimally altered if the stained cell samples are stored for 1-2 months at 4°C. Sample decay is associated with bacterial contamination. If sterile preparative techniques are used initially, subsequent contamination of the stained preparations may be minimized by adding sodium azide to the stained samples at 0.1% without influencing fluorescence intensity. Glycerine may be added to 10% and the samples slowly frozen for storage without altering DNA histogram shapes. The simplicity of sample preparation and the stability of the resulting stained cell samples makes this procedure suitable for repetitive comparative sampling of tissue and cell populations over prolonged time spans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)967-972
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1982
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Anatomy


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