Optimal detection of apoptosis by flow cytometry depends on cell morphology

L. Zamai, E. Falcieri, G. Zauli, A. Cataldi, M. Vitale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Flow cytometry has recently become a choice technique for the quantitative analysis of apoptosis. Monoparametric DNA analysis usually allows identification of apoptotic cells as a 'subdiploid' peak. Progression through apoptosis leads to chromatin condensation, nuclear fragmentation and eventually to cell disruption. Thus, a major problem for the flow cytometric analysis of apoptotic populations is discrimination between debris and apoptotic cells. Here we demonstrate that the best parameter on which to make such a distinction is the DNA content, no matter what type of cell is studied. In contrast, discrimination between apoptotic, non-apoptotic cells, and debris is possible on the basis of scattering signals only in few selected cases, depending on the morphology of the intact cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)891-897
Number of pages7
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1993


  • Apoptosis
  • Cell morphology
  • Electron microscopy
  • Flow cytometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Biophysics
  • Endocrinology


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